Talk about a holiday tradition: 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of “The Nutcracker” ballet’s premiere, which took place in San Francisco on Christmas Eve 1944.
It’s a stroke of good fortune that the Nutcracker made it even that far. When he finished composing the music in 1892, Peter Tchaikovsky wrote that he felt The Nutcracker’s music was “infinitely poorer” than Sleeping Beauty’s, which he had finished two years prior. Audiences agreed: after the ballet’s premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia, it received terrible reviews. But the spectacular snow scene at the end of Act 1 worked its magic (it was the only part of the ballet to receive positive reviews), and despite the disappointing debut, “The Nutcracker” continued to be performed.
It reached Europe in 1934 and San Francisco a decade later. It was George Balanchine, who brought his interpretation of the production to the New York City Ballet in the 1950’s that made it the holiday favorite we know and love.
Celebrating its 54th season – and 38th Nutcracker – with new costumes, choreography and a spectacular new backdrop, the Columbia City Ballet also welcomes two new dancers to its production of “The Nutcracker,” soloists Manuela Navarro and Oscar Sanchez. The dancers, who are engaged, performed extensively in Cuba before coming to the United States. Navarro will alternate the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy with Ballerina Regina Willoughby and Principal Dancer Claire McCaa; Sanchez and Camilo Herrera will both dance the role of the Sugar Plum Cavalier.
The Columbia City Ballet’s production of the “The Nutcracker” begins its Columbia run on Saturday at the Koger Center. For ticket information, show times and information about special events, visit columbiacityballet.com
Katie McElveen, Special to The State