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Start a new holiday tradition with Alberta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker

By Leonie O’Sullivan, December 13 2023—

At this wonderful time of year, you can almost feel a sprinkle of added magic in the air. It’s nearly time to put the books away and step into an enchanting world of dancing confections and glistening snow in Alberta Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. The production will run in Edmonton from Dec. 6–10, and at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary from Dec. 15–24. The Gauntlet had the pleasure of speaking with Christopher Anderson, the artistic director of Alberta Ballet. 

The tale of The Nutcracker begins at a holiday party, where a mysterious family member presents Klara with a magical gift — a nutcracker. Klara sets off on a heroic adventure through another world where she meets the nutcracker in human form. Together, they journey through a snowy forest to a magical kingdom where they meet the sugar plum fairy and other dancing confections. The story ends with the thought-provoking question of whether or not it was all just a dream.

Anderson recalled their first experience of The Nutcracker as a dancer in the fifth grade. This ballet is performed every holiday season, bringing nostalgic feelings and holiday traditions for directors, performers and devoted attendees alike, in this celebration of ballet and its physical creativity. 

“We’re here to help celebrate and bring to life that warmth that everyone is longing for,” said Anderson. “That warmth and connection of the holiday season.”

Last year, the choreographer, Edmund Stripe, switched the international dances of the second act with new treat-themed dances of peppermint, caramel, marzipan and popcorn. This was the first significant change in 15 years, which was well-received by audiences. 

“The changes that we made are really bringing the production closer to this idea of dancing confections and also making the production more accessible and approachable for all peoples as they experience this holiday tradition,” said Anderson. 

The Nutcracker is the only production of the year that is treated to the rich experience of live music. The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra support the dancers to help bring Tchaikovsky’s musical score to life.

If you are a newcomer to ballet, The Nutcracker is a fantastic first experience of a full-length, narrative production. If you’re a student, there is only one thing you need to do to prepare beforehand — attend at least one hour before showtime with your valid student ID to purchase a rush ticket at the box office for a discounted price of $40. You can also purchase tickets in advance through Ticketmaster. 

Lots of activities are taking place in the lobby before curtain time, such as dance classes and storytimes with special guests and local celebrities. There will also be a photo booth where you can have your picture taken with the magnificent Snow Queen in her sleigh. Go ahead and start a new holiday tradition this year with an enchanting time at The Nutcracker ballet.

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