“The Nutcracker” – Ballet Arizona

This review aired on KBAQ December 16, 2010


Ballet Arizona, Symphony Hall
Phoenix, AZ

An outstanding local holiday tradition is the annual Ballet Arizona production of Tchaikovsky’s festive “The Nutcracker.” In artistic director Ib Andersen’s superlative and lush production, the local “Nutcracker” rivals the finest of America’s many productions.

Several seasons ago, Ballet Arizona invested nearly $2 million in this lavish production with its lovely settings, magical costumes, and Andersen’s stunning choreography danced by the polished and posed Ballet Arizona company. Local dance students are featured in several youth roles. Topping off the triumph is the fabulous orchestral accompaniment of the Phoenix Symphony under Timothy Russell’s sure conducting.

This season “The Nutcracker” is brilliantly danced as always so that the magical story of Clara and her toy nutcracker Christmas gift weaves its spell over audiences. While this year’s opening night crowd seemed smaller, there were still many children in the crowd and this is a marvelous way to introduce youngsters to the wonders of live ballet.

The production boasts bright comedy in the first act as Clara falls asleep and begins her dream. The three specialty dolls, Harlequin, Columbine, and the Soldier start things off with a sly mischievousness only to be followed by the Mouse King as his minion of mice do battle with Clara’s Nutcracker and his army. After winning, The Nutcracker becomes a dashing Prince who introduces Clara to the Snow Queen and King who lead the pair off to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

That sets the scene for the second act with its wonderfully diverse specialty numbers that entrance Clara and her Prince. The Ballet Arizona corps does wonders with Spanish Chocolate, Arabian Coffee, Chinese Tea, and Russian Trepak followed by the lovely “Waltz of the Flowers” before the stunningly beautiful pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.

Throughout the lengthy “Nutcracker” run, the Ballet Arizona corps takes on various roles in rotating repertory but the opening night dancers were artfully flawless in executing Andersen’s remarkably exuberant and stunningly beautiful dances with amazing precision.

Phoenix is indeed lucky to have this lush and exquisitely danced “The Nutcracker” with impeccable musical accompaniment by the Phoenix Symphony.

It’s nice to know that Ballet Arizona’s “The Nutcracker” will be around to usher in the holidays. We no longer need to travel to other major cities to experience a world class “The Nutcracker.”  This “Nutcracker” continues at Symphony Hall through December 26. For tickets, call the Ballet Arizona box office at 602-381-1096 or order tickets online at www.balletaz.org.

Grade: A