The holiday season would be incomplete without seeing The Nutcracker. Based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s 1816 short story and powered by Tchaikovsky’s renowned score, the ballet is the epitome of a classic, yet dynamic live performances make it a new experience every time. State Street Ballet presents its version of the ballet on Saturday, December 21, and Sunday, December 22, at The Granada Theatre. Santa Barbara is State Street Ballet’s last stop on their West Coast Nutcracker tour. They will be joined by Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra, Gustafson Dance students, and the Matilija Junior Chamber Choir.
In case you’ve been living under a no-holiday rock, here’s a brief summary of the ballet. A young girl named Clara attends her family’s annual Christmas party, where she receives a toy nutcracker that comes to life at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. Through Clara’s journey, the audience is transported to a magical realm called the Land of Sweets. There’s a battle of good versus evil with the nutcracker, toys, and a pack of rats. The fight ends when Clara kicks the Rat Queen and kills her, thus banishing the evil spirits and causing the nutcracker to turn into his true form — a handsome prince.
Laguna Blanca School freshman Ashly Pryor, is, along with Ella Rotondo of San Marcos High, one of the two dancers selected for the coveted role of Clara. Fourteen-year-old Pryor has been attending Gustafson Dance since the age of 3 and is currently in her third year as a member of the pre-professional group State Street Ballet Young Dancers. The life of a ballerina is like no other. Long days full of intense strain on their bodies are the norm. Pryor, however, enjoys it, saying this discipline is not what others might believe, and that practicing ballet actually allows her to express herself and even be “stress-free.” The role demands a lot, and the high school freshman said juggling homework and 15-hours-a-week dance rehearsals is an all-consuming task. Performing alongside professionals helps, though, and Pryor said that she “looks up to” the company’s full-time dancers.
State Street Ballet’s The Nutcracker runs Sat., Dec. 21, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sun., Dec. 22, at 2 p.m., at The Granada Theatre (1214 State St.). (Pryor will perform Sat. and Sun. at 2 p.m.; Rotondo will perform Sat. at 7:30 p.m.) Call 899-2222 or see granadasb.org.