It was a sad pandemic Christmas last year, Nutcracker-wise (and otherwise, of course).
The Nutcracker’s adorable Clara didn’t see her family’s Christmas tree soar up to the sky, or marvel at the dancing of the Sugar Plum Fairy or hear the strains of Tchaikovsky’s magnificent music. The Nutcracker prince, the snow ballerinas and the Spanish and Arabian dancers never made it to the stage. The beloved Christmas ballet had gone dark.
As one of the most popular ballets in the U.S., it was unthinkable that the ballet could be shut down.
But Covid-19 had the power to banish it.
The pandemic it still with us, God help us, but now, with ample vaccines and boosters, companies have carved out ways to bring back Tucson’s favorite ballet.
Ballet Tucson, the only pro ballet company in town, last year offered online clips of Nutcrackers past. Now the troupe is roaring back. The dancers are in high gear, rehearsing to dance live in the company’s masterful traditional
“We are thrilled to bring our beloved holiday classic back to the stage!!,” associate artistic director Margaret Mullin writes via email. “Our dancers and audiences have missed the joy and wonder of our Nutcracker. We are filled with excitement and gratitude for this magical return.”
This year’s cast is 100 dancers strong, ranging from tiny tots to seasoned pros.
Ballet Master Daniel Precup reprises his Drosselmeyer, the mysterious character who gets the action going. Ballet Tucson student trainees Abigail Lee and Allisyn Lloyd alternate Clara, the young girl who journeys to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of the Sweets.
The Sugar Plum Fairy is once again danced by prima ballerina Jenna Johnson, an extraordinary talent who has been with Ballet Tucson since the troupe went pro in 2004. Danielle Cesanek, a principal dancer now in her third year with the company, will alternate Sugar Plum with Johnson. Their Cavalier is Vasily Boldin, a principal danseur
For the Snow scene, one of the company’s most beautiful pieces of choreography, longtime company dancer Taylor Johnson plays the Snow Queen. Skylar Burson, a new arrival, partners her as Snow King. (The famed Petipa choreographed the ballet in 1892, but the troupe’s founding director Mary Beth Cabana and associate artistic director Chieko Imada get kudos for their work on Nutcracker.)
The troupe’s COVID-wise protocols require patrons to prove their full vaccination, or a negative test taken within 72 hours before the concert. They must also have valid photo ID. Everyone, including children, must wear a mask.