“Opening Up ‘The Nut'”: Ballet San Jose’s ‘Nutcracker’ Over Time

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FOR SOME, 2003 seems like the recent past. In 2003, the United States began the Iraq War and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online declared “democracy” to be the #1 Word of the Year. In 2003, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was released to rave reviews from critics, audiences, and (eventually) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2003, Ballet San Jose performed a wide variety of pieces, from The Tempest to Appalachian Spring.

Yes, 2003 was a banner year. But it was eight whole years ago, and some things that were important and relevant then may not hold as much weight now, as we near the end of 2011.

Some things, however, persist over time – specifically, Dennis Nahat’s The Nutcracker, which Ballet San Jose has performed annually for over 25 years. As we prepare for another Nutcracker opening this Saturday, Dec. 10, it seems important that we take a look at a piece of the show’s history within our organization.

In 2003, Marianne Messina wrote a fantastic review of Ballet San Jose’s The Nutcracker. Published in Metro, a local weekly arts publication, “Opening Up ‘The Nut’” explored the differences between the classic Nutcracker and Dennis Nahat’s brilliant reimagining. Messina begins the article with the following words:

DON‘T FEEL BAD if you’ve seen The Nutcracker many times already and still don’t know the story line. By the time E.T.A. Hoffman’s popular tale made it to Russia for its ballet incarnation in 1892, Hoffman would barely have recognized it himself. Moreover, few of the story elements have remained consistent throughout the ballet’s century-plus of productions. For Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley’s Nutcracker, artistic director Dennis Nahat has dispensed with the candy coating (the Sugar Plum Fairy and the idea of representing countries as consumables) and brought back international potentates.

From there, Messina goes on to talk about the merits of our Nutcracker production, ranging from the technical:

Karen Gabay’s exuberant toe work as the gleeful Maria; the flawless timing and execution of pink-clad ballerinas combined with Nahat’s clever choreography…

to the emotional:

…as Tsarina Tatiana, Meijer made an exit that was so bittersweet in its delicate control, you couldn’t help flashing all at once on the days when the ideal woman was as controlled and fragile as a china doll…

to the bigger picture:

…[remembering] the fate of the Russian nobility, decimated just a generation after they were so gaily celebrated in The Nutcracker’s waltz, and on the precarious balance between beloved tradition and hopeful change.

It’s quite a remarkable read. Although the Company itself is now known as simply Ballet San Jose, many of the article’s points remain unchanged by the last eight years. Karen Gabay and Alexsandra Meijer still perform fantastically in the roles they danced in 2003. Dennis Nahat still puts a unique and emotional spin on a classic ballet tale every December. Ballet San Jose’s The Nutcracker continues to be a holiday tradition for a flourishing Silicon Valley arts community.

And still, some spark of magic, some feeling of novelty, keeps the crowds coming back to BSJ’s The Nutcracker year after year after year.

Some things don’t need to change completely in order to seem new again, and Marianne Messina’s 2003 article is proof of that very fact.

Read the article in its entirety here.

Updated Show Times and Ticketing Information:

PLEASE NOTE: The opening matinee on Dec. 10 at 1:30 PM is ALMOST SOLD OUT. There are still a few seats left in the balcony, but the floor is completely filled. Additionally, there is currently no GoldStar.com ticket deal for this year’s Nutcracker.

Saturday, Dec. 10 (OPEN) – 1:30 PM and 7:30 PM
Sunday, Dec. 11 – 1:30 PM
Saturday, Dec. 17 – 1:30 PM and 7:30 PM
Sunday, Dec. 18 – 1:30 PM
Tuesday, Dec. 20 – 7:30 PM
Wednesday, Dec. 21 – 1:30 PM
Thursday, Dec. 22 – 1:30 PM
Friday, Dec. 23 (CLOSE) – 11:00 AM (Special Morning show)

Box Office Phone: (408) 288-2800
Buy tickets online at http://www.balletsj.org

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2 thoughts on ““Opening Up ‘The Nut'”: Ballet San Jose’s ‘Nutcracker’ Over Time

  1. Janet Vertin says:

    JUNNA and RAMON danced a delightful opening night performance.

  2. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this weblog and
    I am impressed! Very useful information specially the final section 🙂 I deal with such info a lot.

    I was looking for this particular information for a long time.

    Thanks and best of luck.

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