What came first? Christmas or “The Nutcracker?”
Because of the pandemic, this could have been the year there was no live version of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet. But even a virus can’t kill a timeless classic.
Colorado Ballet Society and Colorado Youth Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” Tuesday through Dec. 19 at Colorado Springs Christian School. Masks are required, and audience members will be distanced accordingly.
“A lot of organizations have opted to not do something. I was a little sad thinking that might have to happen,” says Laci Landry, Colorado Ballet Society instructor and choreographer. “It means a lot to the dancers to work on this, especially after having to be home and take classes in their living rooms. And audience members will be uplifted and get into the holiday spirit.”
There have been some concessions to create the virus-friendly “Nutcracker.” The usual 75-minute performance has been tightened to an hour and the normally robust cast has been shrunk due to the decreased size of the stage. In a normal year, choreography for one or two dances changes. This year almost everything is brand-new. Dancers will have less contact than usual and perform 6 feet apart as much as possible.
Creating the movement was a welcome challenge for Landry, who’s danced in many a “Nutcracker” since she was 13.
“I’ve always loved puzzles, piecing things together so someone can connect with it to bring them joy or beauty or emotion,” she says. “Choreography is like that. Dance is my favorite art form. It touched my soul deeply.”
This will be dancer Gabriella Vidano’s fifth “Nutcracker” since she started dancing 11 years ago. She’ll perform as Snow Queen, Sugar Plum Fairy and Arabian Coffee.
“Now it’s my passion,” says the Palmer Ridge High School senior.
“I’m not super great at public speaking or expressing myself through words. But I can express my feelings through dance and on stage and share what I love with the audience.”
The show comes while Vidano films audition videos for ballet companies around the world. She hopes to dance professionally next year after high school. But it was challenging for the 17-year-old to maintain her conditioning and training after her dance studio closed this year. She rallied by setting up a tiny studio space in her basement and doing online ballet classes. Even then, it was a chore to motivate herself to dance in a dark space without her friends.
“But I got to the thought process of what if everything went away and went back to normal and what would happen?” she says. “Would I be in shape or out of shape? So I kept getting up and training like tomorrow everything would go back to normal, so I can be the best dancer I can be when everything does goes back to normal.”
With all its hardships, this might be the perfect year to inhale a confection like “The Nutcracker,” with its escapism, classical music and lush sights.
“People like tradition,” Landry says. “We are creatures of habit. It’s comforting. But it’s fun and it brings joy to people’s lives.”
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