“The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” was written in 1816 by E.T.A. Hoffmann as a holiday tale for children, and in 1892, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote the familiar music we hear each holiday season. He collaborated with Russian choreographers Petipa and Lev Ivanov to create “The Nutcracker” Ballet, which brings in the holiday season worldwide, with its story of Clara and a gift from Godfather Drosselmeyer of a mysterious nutcracker, which becomes her Prince — plus a whole cast of fairy tale characters who inhabit her dreams of a festive Christmas: Sugar Plums, et al.
We list a sampling of productions readily available in the Denver metro area (and one in the mountains), hoping many area families will be able to enjoy this lovely tradition. Young dancers grow up with this music and story as part of the season — progressing through roles as they become taller, older and more skilled. Only a few reach the level of Colorado Ballet’s stars, but almost all who dance will carry the music with them forever.
Included: dancing dolls, a fierce Mouse King and Soldiers, Sugar Plums, Arabian Dancers, Party Girls and Boys, a lovely Snow Queen and her Prince — and a number of graceful Snowflakes in white tutus. “Waltz of the Flowers” plays throughout the land and children dress up in their fanciest clothes to see the matinee performances ... Watching them twirl at intermission is a special treat.
• Littleton Youth Ballet, with its school at 1169 W. Littleton Blvd., presents a cast of over 150 children in a production choreographed by a local former Clara — Alison Jaramillo, who danced with the David Taylor Dance Company, when it was headquartered on West Main Street. Guest artists Dana Benton and Yosvani Ramos of Colorado Ballet will dance the lead roles in evening performances and 16-year-olds Lauren Vogel and Tate Ryner will perform at the matinees. Vogel has been a Clown and Rag Doll and Ryner has been Clara’s brother Fritz, the Prince and Chinese Lead. Both won $1 500 scholarships to summer training at the School of the American Ballet last summer and will perform the pas de deux danced by principal dancers all over the nation. This is the 12th season for LYB’s production, which will be presented at the Joanna Ramsey Theatre, at Westminster High School, 6933 Raleigh St., Westminster: Dec. 14 (7 p.m.); Dec. 15 (2 and 7 p.m.); Dec. 16 (noon and 4 p.m.) Tickets: reserved seating — $20-$36. Call 303-794-6694, or visit littletonyouthballet.org.
• “The Nutcracker of Parker.” Colorado School of Dance in Parker presents performances Dec. 14 to 22 at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Parker. Here again, young dancers progress through successive roles year after year. Evenings: Dec. 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 at 7 p.m.; matinees at 2 p.m: Dec. 15, 16, 22. Tickets: 303-805-6800; parkerarts.ticketforce.com.
• Denver Ballet Theatre, with its school at 5690 County Line Place, Highlands Ranch, performs “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 21 and 22 (2 and 7 p.m.) at the Newman Center (University of Denver), 2344 E. Iliff Ave. It features designs by Eve Jenkins and Andrew Flatland. Tickets: $15-$38: newmantix.com; box office: 303-871-7720. (David Taylor directs.)
• Ballet Ariel’s version of “The Nutcracker” will return to the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Alison Parkway, Lakewood. Ballet Ariel, located at 7808 E. Cherry Creek South Drive, Denver, is in its 20th season and presents professional dancers and students in its productions, directed by Ilena Norton. Performances are at 2 p.m. Dec. 14, 16, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27 and 7 p.m. Dec. 21, 22, 26. Tickets: 303-987-7845; www.lakewood.org/CulturalCenter.
• Colorado Ballet presents its 58th annual production of “The Nutcracker” with 27 performances including its 55 professional company members from around the world, plus students at its Raydean Acevado Colorado Ballet Academy. Performances are at the elegant Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Performing Arts Center: Nov. 24 through Dec. 24, at 1 p.m., 6:30 or 7:30 p.m. (Check website for specific date.) Many of these elaborate, beautiful performances sell out, so one needs to plan ahead. Company dancers rotate through the starring roles, costumes and scenery are beautiful. Tickets: $30 to $155, coloradoballet.org, 303-837-8888, ext. 2.
• Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” is at various times Dec. 7 and 8 at the Paramount Theatre on 16th Street in Denver. Area dance students auditioned in the summer to perform with this traveling production. Performances: noon, 4, 8 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8. Tickets: $28-$89: www.altitudetickets.com/events/detail/moscow-ballet-2018.
• Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, which performed with Pianist Joyce Yang in Denver recently, performs “The Nutcracker” Dec. 9 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 10 at 1 and 5 p.m. at 355 High School Road, Aspen. A whimsical twist is promised. Tickets: $36-$94; aspensantafeballet.com, 970-925-7175.
• Finally, Miners Alley Playhouse Children’s Theatre presents a theatrical version of this tale: “The Story of the Nutcracker,” adapted and directed by Rory Pierce, onstage Nov. 24 to Dec. 22, Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Dec. 8, 15, 22 at 11 a.m. and 1p.m. The theater is at 1224 Washington St. in Golden. Tickets: minersalley.com, 303-935-3044.
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