Park City ‘Nutcracker’ breaks out of its shell
The Park City “Nutcracker” tradition will continue, but will feature additional choreography drawn from Ballet West’s renowned seasonal production this Saturday.
Park City Dance Academy has enjoyed its own version of “The Nutcracker” for decades, but after Ballet West acquired the school, the plan was to present a whole new production because Ballet West has performed one of the nation’s first “Nutcracker” productions since the mid 1950s, said Cati Snarr, principal of the Peggy Bergman Ballet West Academy Park City Campus.
“We tried to get the rights to ‘Polar Express,’ but that didn’t happen the way we had planned,” Snarr told The Park Record. “So we decided to do a different kind of ‘Nutcracker.’”
The Park City production, which will run at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, will include Ballet West choreography that was created by Ballet West founder Willam F. Christensen, known in Utah as Mr. C, as well as Park City Dance Academy choreography.
“I have been the Children’s Ballet Mistress at Ballet West for 13 years, and the Ballet West administration asked for me to take out some of the Park City ‘Nutcracker’ choreography and add some of Mr. C’s choreography,” Snarr said.
Christensen’s scenes will include “Waltz of the Flowers,” “Snow,” “Merlitons” and an excerpt of “Party.”
“Ballet West let me stage the new choreography for the Park City concerts to the ability of the students in the Ballet West Academy,” Snarr said. “It’s not very often that the rights to Mr. C’s choreography is given to other dance organizations.”
Snarr did keep a lot of the Park City Dance Academy choreography as she could.
“I love their Chinese dance and other divertissements that are found in Act II, which are sweet and great for kids to see,” she said. “Since we’re doing a 70-minute performance, I didn’t add the full versions of the divertissements, but it’s awesome that the Park City kids get to taste that flavor.”
The Ballet West choreography has challenged the Park City dancers.
“It really pushes them as dancers,” Snarr said. “It’s also been fun to set the dances and watch the kids figure it out. I also enjoy passing down Mr. C’s legacy, because as a dancer, I danced his choreography.”
Another change was adding a story to the Park City performances, because the Park City Dance Academy version was built on scenes and variations, rather than a story.
“I brought in the story that has a few differences than what is commonly told in ‘The Nutcracker,’” Snarr said. “Instead of Drosselmeyer the toymaker, the character is called The Puppetmaster. And she is like a dreamweaver.”
Snarr also took out the elephants and marionettes.
“I did keep the Raggedy Ann dolls in and added Ballet West’s wind-up bear and doll,” she said. “In the real story, there are a lot of different dolls in the party scene.”
Park City will also get some additional dancers to fill out the cast.
“We are bringing up additional Ballet West trainees — who are in high school and college — from Salt Lake to dance the pas de deux for Waltz of the Flowers and Snow, as well as the Grand Pas de Deux (featuring the Sugar Plum Fairy),” Snarr said. “We just don’t have enough boys at the Park City campus to dance all of these pas de deux.”
Another perk of working with Ballet West on the Park City concerts include costumes.
“Since Ballet West’s main company is presenting its production in Salt Lake City with new costumes, we are able to use the old costumes for the Park City show,” Snarr said.
All of these changes were necessary, but not as difficult as they could have been.
“We’re lucky to be able to do them all with our kids,” Snarr said. “And we are going to do our best to pull off a professional production with these talented children.”
The Park City/Peggy Bergman Ballet West Academy “Nutcracker” will be at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Adult tickets range from $20 to $25. Student tickets range from $25 to $20. For tickets call 855-222-2849 or visit http://www.tututix.com.
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