1. JOURNEY TO THE KINGDOM OF SWEETS
For many people, it just isn’t Christmas until you’ve seen “The Nutcracker.” The Central California Ballet production features some top-notch professional talent in the leading roles, including Michaela DePrince and Taureen Green, both of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier; Aurora Frey (pictured) and David Beir, who play the Snow Queen and Snow Queen; and Courtney Boyd, who plays the Dewdrop. Don’t forget to check out my story about DePrince — she was an African orphan who became a star ballerina — in Thursday’s Life section. [Details]
I have a four-pack of tickets to give away to one reader to the 7:30 p.m. Saturday performance at the Saroyan Theatre. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite “Nutcracker” memory. (Or, if you’ve never seen the show, tell us why you’d like to go.) I’ll select one comment at random as the winner.
Deadline is 2 p.m. THURSDAY.
If you win, you’ll be able to pick up the tickets at the door. Please don’t enter more than once. Check your email between 2 and 2:30 p.m. Thursday to see if you won, because that’s how I’ll be notifying winners. Complete rules on the jump.
In the meantime, you can read my piece about Michaela DePrince’s amazing journey from African orphanage to this weekend’s Sugar Plum Fairy in Thursday’s Life section. (She’s pictured above.)
The Central California Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker” is a happy combination of professional ballet dancers and enthusiastic community members. This year’s production — which played three performances over the weekend at the Saroyan Theatre — was a nice blend of the two.
In some ways, it was the little things that tickled me this year: the way the littlest dancer in the Chinese dragon, stuck in the rear, wiggled the tail. Or the big pillars that look like ice-cream sundaes on the Kingdom of the Sweets backdrop. Or the cleverness of Herr Drosselmeyer’s “magic” box in the party scene. And how about those twitching, restless mice, who manage to be both endearing and rodent-like at the same time?
The pros were in fine form as well. Ethan and Nikki White, who catapulted to national fame thanks to Paula Abdul’s “Live to Dance” TV competition, made an exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. And a happy homecoming feeling was in the air when it came to Courtney Boyd, a Fresno native who trained with Central California Ballet and is now a member of Santa Monica’s Monat Dance group, when she performed as the “Dew Drop” soloist.
So many events scheduled — how could you make them all?
1. TAKE A WHIRL WITH ‘THE TEMPEST’
This Fresno State production is top-notch. Here’s my full-length Beehive review; a condensed version appears in Friday’s 7 section. I know these are busy holiday times, but don’t miss it. There are just two performances left: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
1. SEE A SNOW PRINCESS
Here’s something I remind people every holiday season: At each performance of “The Nutcracker,” there are children experiencing this holiday classic for the very first time. (Some adults, too!) Their initial wonder is what makes this annual experience extra special for the performers — and the audience as well. That’s what rituals are all about The Central California Ballet is putting on three shows this weekend: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, all at the Saroyan Theatre. The production brings together professionals in the principal roles, local student dancers and adult community members. I wrote about an interesting local angle in Thursday’s Life section: 16-year-old Carolyn Lippert, who is pursuing a career as professional ballet dancer, grew up playing various roles in the show. This year she’s dancing the part of the Snow Princess, which is considered the top rung of the student-danced roles.
In Friday’s 7 section I talk to Meaghan Grace Hinkis of American Ballet Theatre II, who plays the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Central California Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.” One thing she mentioned in the interview is that her dance partner, Irlan Santos da Silva of Rio de Janiero, is the subject of a 2009 film titled “Only When I Dance.” According to IMDB, it’s about “two black children from the Favela in Brazil, who, despite constant prejudice and doubt, are both determined to beat the odds and follow their dreams to use dancing as an escape rarely found in their tough day to day lives.”
UPDATE 12/18: And our winner is Danielle Shapazian. Congrats!
ORIGINAL ENTRY: One of the great things about “The Nutcracker” is the fact that it’s a wonderful holiday tradition, especially when you share it with a wide-eyed child. One of the not-so-great things is that a big, live performance like this can come with a pretty hefty price tag. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to offer TWO tickets to the 2 p.m. Saturday performance of Central California Ballet’s production at the Saroyan Theatre to a lucky Beehive reader. The orchestra seats we’re giving away regularly cost $50 for adults (half-price for kids).
Winning the tickets is easy: Just tell us why you want to win. Or share a favorite “Nutcracker” memory. The winner will be randomly selected among all comments received and notified by e-mail (so use a real e-mail address). The deadline is 2 p.m. Thursday. No repeat comments please. You’re ineligible if you’ve won something in the past 30 days (the “Up in the Air” screening doesn’t count). Complete rules after the jump. You’ll need to pick up the tickets at The Bee’s front counter by 5 p.m. Friday.