In our ever-changing world, there’s something to be said for rituals we can count on year after year. One of winter’s most beloved traditions is The Nutcracker, the Tchaikovsky ballet that brings to life the Christmas Eve dreams of a little girl named Clara. For a number of years, Santa Barbara’s State Street Ballet (SSB) offered a 1930s Hollywood twist on the classic, which had its own razzle-dazzle appeal. Recently, they’ve embraced a more traditional staging, which is the one they’ll perform this Saturday, December 17, and Sunday, December 18, at the Granada. For tickets and info, call 899-2222 or visit granadasb.org. Here are three reasons to catch State Street’s version of this holiday favorite:
1. The Magnificent Setting: Even in a school gymnasium, a performance of The Nutcracker can be a pretty magical experience. But frame it with the opulent beauty of the historic Granada Theatre, and it’s something extra-special. Add to that the lavish set built in Moscow and stunning new costumes designed by A. Christina Giannini and Anaya Cullen, and you’ve got a production that’s as spectacular visually as it is technically. Finding just the right outfit to wear to such a grand occasion is half the fun.
2. The Company’s Caliber: State Street Ballet has grown considerably since the company started out back in 1994, and not only in size. Today, in addition to performing a full season of shows here in town, SSB holds down a busy national touring schedule. In recent months, they’ve performed The Jungle Book in Southern California, New Mexico, and Colorado, and taken The Nutcracker to Kansas, Missouri, and Washington. All those shows mean the dancers are in prime condition, or as Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson says, “They’ve got their performance legs on.”
3. The Professional Dancers: This year, the role of the Nutcracker Prince will be performed on alternate days by longtime company members Ryan Camou and Jack Stewart, while newcomer Season Winquest will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. “She’s a sublime girl,” Gustafson said of Winquest, one of SSB’s most recent acquisitions. “She’s only 21 years old, and she’s super-talented.” Of course, the entire cast of this Nutcracker is top-notch, and if you happen to attend the Sunday matinee, you might just get a chance to meet some of them at the Sugar Plum Party held after the show in the Founders Room.