‘The Nutcracker’ a Sweet Treat for the Holidays

Sarah Dale and Devon McCleskey perform as the sugar plum fairy and Cavalier in “The Nutcracker” Friday night. Photo by Holger Waschinski

Review by Bonnie J. Gordon

New Mexico Dance Theater Performance Company’s “The Nutcracker” opened Nov. 9.

Seeing “The Nutcracker” is like visiting an old friend. The music and the story are so comfortable and familiar we fall easily under its spell.

Adding to the homey feeling is the knowledge that this is our very own “Nutcracker.” NMDT-PC is a Los Alamos company. The company is joined on stage by young students from the NMDT School.

Almost all the dancers, from the tiniest mouse to the starring ballerinas, are from Los Alamos. 

Director Susan Baker-Dillingham’s version of “The Nutcracker” is beautifully choreographed. I loved the opening scenes at the Christmas party, which were festive and fun.

I especially enjoyed seeing the young girls dance with their fathers. This somehow added a layer of intimacy and warmth to the party scene I hadn’t felt before, even after seeming many, many “Nutcrackers.”

The sets by designer Holly Haas were simple but  lovely. I especially liked the addition of a magical doll box, from which immerged a series of dancing dolls.

Emily Brown performs as Clara in a scene with other NMDT-PC dancers. Photo by Holger Waschinski

The battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King was a standout scene, adorable yet poignant. Baker-Dillingham has a knack for working with the very youngest dancers.

Without making the choreography too difficult, she manages to make these numbers interesting as well as cute.

Chris Jeffery made a terrific Herr Drosselmeyer—the mysterious and mesmerizing uncle with whom the little girl inside every woman is a bit in love.

Emily Brown is a sweet and charming Clara and Jordon Baker is a gallant Nutcracker.

Dancing the most difficult role in the ballet, Sarah Dale is a beautiful and elegant Sugar Plum Fairy. She is well partnered by her Cavalier, Devon McCleskey.

It’s easy to forget how young these dancers are when you watch their polished performances.

There was a technical glitch opening night, stranding the Angel dancers onstage without music.

These young performers carried on like troupers, standing in perfect position until the curtain came down and the number could begin again. They deserve a special nod for grace under pressure.

The magic of “The Nutcracker” continued through the spritely numbers in the Land of Sweets and the dreamy “Waltz of the Flowers.” The dancers did a fine job.

NMDT-PC succeeds in bringing the world of “The Nutcracker” to warm and spicy life on the stage of the Duane Smith Auditorium. Don’t miss the chance to visit this special winter wonderland.

NMDT makes a point of giving something back to the community during each production. For this production of “The Nutcracker,” NMDT–PC is partnering with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF.) Information regarding JDRF will be available in the lobby at each performance and a portion of every ticket sold will be donated to JDRF.

“The Nutcracker”continues at 7:30 p.m. today, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 11 and Nov. 18 at the Duane Smith Auditorium.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and free for children four and under. Advance tickets are available now at Uli’s Cottontails or at the door 45 minutes prior to performance times. For more information about NMDT, visit www.nmdt.org.







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