Tag Archives: The Nutcracker

Guest Stager: Stacy Caddell

After an acclaimed Nutcracker, our dancers are back in the studios rehearsing for our first program of 2015, MasterPieces. This week we are joined by Stacy Caddell, who is working with our dancers to stage George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations along with Sandra Jennings, also back in the studios since December. The ballet along with the company premiere of Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free and the return of Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room make up the MasterPieces program, which will be performed on February 20-22 at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. These three works truly live up to the title of MasterPieces, and we are thrilled to be presenting this exquisite and diverse program. Keep reading to learn more about Stacy Caddell. For tickets to see MasterPieces, visit the Ballet San Jose website. Tickets start at only $25!

Stacy CaddellStacy Caddell

Stacy Caddell was born in Norfolk, Virginia where she began her dance training at the age of five. She attended the School of American Ballet and joined New York City Ballet at the invitation of George Balanchine in 1980. In 1991, Caddell joined Twyla Tharp’s company. She later toured with Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov in the full evening production of Cutting Up. After retiring from the stage, Caddell assisted Tharp at American Ballet Theatre on Known by Heart and at New York City Ballet on Beethoven’s Seventh. From 2002-2005, she served as Dance Supervisor for Tharp’s Tony Award winning Broadway show Movin’ Out. Caddell’s choreographic credits include the HBO series The Sopranos, the opera Aida for the Todi Festival in Virginia, and a ballet, our special waltz, for Ballet Academy East where she is a permanent guest faculty member. Caddell is currently a repetiteur and travels internationally to stage the works of Twyla Tharp and George Balanchine for Twyla Tharp and the George Balanchine Trust respectively.

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Dancer Spotlight: Ommi Pipit-Suksun

Story by Susan Lee

After living and working in three different countries, principal dancer Ommi Pipit-Suksun has finally found a home at Ballet San Jose.

Pipit-Suksun grew up in Thailand, where ballet was not very popular.  “There’s no professional ballet company in the country,” Pipit-Suksun says.  “And there weren’t even any dancers in my family.”

Ommi Pipit-Suksun

Ballet San Jose Principal Dancer Ommi Pipit-Suksun and Soloist Rudy Candia. Photo by Robert Reed.

So how did she wind up choosing ballet? Continue reading

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A Good First Look: Ballet San Jose’s New “Nutcracker”

From Karen Gabay's "The Nutcracker," performed by Ballet San Jose. Photo by Robert Shomler.

From Karen Gabay’s “The Nutcracker,” performed by Ballet San Jose. Photo by Robert Shomler (2012).

Ballet San Jose’s brand new Nutcracker opened this past Saturday in a gorgeous swirl of snow and infectious energy. Longtime Ballet SJ principal dancer Karen Gabay has choreographed a new production from a unique perspective: that of one of the only female choreographers in the world to choreograph a Nutcracker for a major ballet company. Performed to full orchestral accompaniment by Symphony Silicon Valley, her Nutcracker has given South Bay audiences a new look at the a classic holiday tale.

In her review for the San Jose Mercury News, Rita Felciano wrote:

This year Gabay…joined that still rare breed of women who choreograph major pieces for professional ballet companies. Gabay is no beginner at making dances. Still, tackling “Nutcracker” was a huge challenge — and opportunity. Supported by the Symphony Silicon Valley, under the baton of the ballet’s new musical director George Daugherty, she gave her home team and the legion of “Nutcracker” lovers, a family-friendly, fresh interpretation of the old tale — including a new twist.

Ms. Felciano went on to call parts of this new production of Nutcracker “ingenious,” praising Ballet SJ dancers for worthy performances, and later wrote that the “national dances are every ‘Nutcracker’s’ balletic highlights. Gabay gave us convincing versions with a feminist touch to some of them.”

In her review for triviana.com Arts & Entertainment, Virginia Bock wrote:

With festive sets, elegant costumes, a familiar story and Tchaikovsky’s well-known score, “The Nutcracker” ballet has been an audience favorite and a holiday tradition for decades. Ballet San Jose’s new production adds humor, complexity and some stunning new choreography that should keep audiences coming back for years to come.

Writing for CriticalDance.com, Heather Desaulniers noted:

With its brand new “Nutcracker”, Ballet San Jose continues to inject life, vision and vitality into the South Bay’s performing arts scene. Choreographed by BSJ’s own Karen Gabay, this full-length holiday extravaganza is a thoughtful and fresh interpretation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story, complete with elegant dancing and striking originality…Accompaniment by Symphony Silicon Valley was the icing on the cake.  Under the direction of conductor George Daugherty, the music was dynamic, articulate and interactive, exactly what is required of and demanded by a Tchaikovsky score.

Dr. Gary R. Lemco, in his review for “The Classical Music Guide” forums at http://www.classicalmusicguide.com, added:

Peter Tchaikovsky’s perennial Christmas favorite, The Nutcracker, hardly needs promotion, but the Ballet San Jose production, with new choreography by former prima ballerina Karen Gabay, struck a chord, both resonant to the ear and panoramic to the eye, that warrants special mention. With the Symphony Silicon Valley under the masterful leadership of conductor George Daugherty, the audience at the Friday, December 14, 2012 performance at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts recovered much of the original wonder and enchantment of both the composer and “librettist,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s, often nightmarish parable of humanity’s liberation from its primal fears to embrace its own childhood innocence.

And Dr. Lemco also gave Ballet SJ School students a very positive mention:

Ms. Gabay’s singular effort was to engage as many young dancers as possible in the ensemble pieces, so the production glowed with Ballet SJ School Students.

Bravi! Congratulations to Karen, George, the company, Ballet SJ School students, and Symphony Silicon Valley. Every good review is well deserved!

It’s been an amazing run so far, but the show not over yet! Ballet SJ’s new Nutcracker runs through this Sunday, December 23, and there are still tickets available. Buy online or call our Box Office at (408) 288-2800 during regular business hours. Tickets can also be purchased one hour before show time at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts.

Happy holidays!

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Artist Spotlight: Ballet San Jose Dancer Alex Kramer

Alex Kramer photographed by Jade Young

Alex Kramer photographed by Jade Young

Nine days ago, Ballet San Jose gave the South Bay a one-night-only preview of our 2013 Repertory Season with an amazing Inaugural Gala performance at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. The rep earned some very complimentary reviews from publications around the Bay Area and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Every person who took the CPA stage on November 3 — from critically acclaimed concert violinist Rachel Lee to the company dancers of Ballet San Jose, both familiar and new — gave an awe-inspiring performance. We think the gala gave Bay Area audiences a really inspiring look at the new pieces in the coming season!

Now, we’ve begun to look ahead to Ballet SJ’s new production of The Nutcracker, which will make its world premiere on December 8. As we gear up for this run of Nutcracker, we pick up where we left off with our Artist Spotlight blog series. Meet another new face in the corps de ballet: Alex Kramer, an alumnus of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and former member of ABT Studio Company. Before the gala, we talked to Alex about what inspired him to become a dancer in Grand Junction, CO, his mentor at ABT, and his thoughts about leaving New York City.

Continue reading

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Ballet San Jose Artist Spotlight: Dancer Mallory Welsh

A behind-the-scenes photo of Ballet SJ dancer Mallory Welsh.

A behind-the-scenes photo of Ballet SJ dancer Mallory Welsh.

Ballet San Jose dancers are deep into Nutcracker rehearsals now—Principal Ballet Master Raymond Rodriguez tweeted earlier this week that staging for The Battle had begun!—with choreographer and Ballet SJ Principal dancer Karen Gabay, who is setting all-new choreography on the company. The studios are busy with rehearsals, and Ballet San Jose School is packed every afternoon with a full schedule of classes. As we get back into the swing of things, we are so excited to be able to introduce our newest dancers to you via our blog.

We continue our Artist Spotlight series from last week with Mallory Welsh, a dancer some of you may remember from past seasons at Ballet SJ. After a season away, Mallory is back to dance in the corps for a diverse Ballet SJ season of company premieres by many exciting and renowned choreographers. We sat down with Mallory a couple of weeks ago to talk about her earliest dance memory, her biggest inspiration, and her favorite non-dancing hobby.

Continue reading

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Maykel Solas, Mirai Noda, and Ballet San Jose Featured on ‘Aquí…Luis Echegoyen’ Tonight

BSJ Principal dancer Maykel Solas

BSJ Principal dancer Maykel Solas

Principal dancer Maykel Solas and Ballet San Jose will be featured in the second segment of popular Spanish language program Aquí…Luis Echegoyen. The program will air tonight at 11:00 PM on KTNC-TV Channel 42 (Channel 19 on Comcast).

Tune in this evening to see an interview Maykel taped during a break from Nutcracker rehearsals on November 28. The program will also feature footage of Maykel and Mirai Noda rehearsing the roles of Tsar and Tsarina from Act II of The Nutcracker. Whether or not you’re a Spanish speaker, you will definitely want to catch this backstage studio action!

By the way, Maykel and Mirai will be dancing the roles of Tsar and Tsarina in The Nutcracker on Sunday, December 18, at 1:30 PM and on Friday, December 23, at 11:00 AM!

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“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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Tales from the BSJ Box Office: Holiday Windows, Pink Trees and Old Friends

The holidays have arrived at the Ballet San Jose Box Office!

The holidays have arrived at the Ballet San Jose Box Office! (Photo by Dennis Keefe)

LAUREN AND DENNIS HAVE BEEN way too busy to blog lately — which is a really good thing! — but they did want to take a moment to wish everyone a joyous holiday season!

From Dennis:

I recently put up some icicle lights, a wreath, and a Nutcracker in the Box Office window. Meanwhile, Lauren has been assigned the task of putting ornaments on her pink holiday tree, but she seems to think that answering the box office phone is more important, so the poor tree is still only half decorated!

We are watching seats for The Nutcracker disappear before our very eyes as the number of online purchasers has increased drastically this year. There are a couple of performances that will soon be completely sold out!

We’ve been listening to holiday music to keep our spirits up while the weather turns colder and our days grow busier. Speaking of music, did you know that Lauren is a songbird? She has her own jazz band that performs  several times a month throughout the city. We can’t wait to hear her sing. We also have the pleasure of listening to the busy workers as they get the beautiful costumes ready for the show. There are roadboxes upon roadboxes full of costumes right outside our door.

Here’s another interesting piece of news: starting this Thursday, not only are we staying open until 6:00 PM — we’ll also have the wonderful assistance of Jess Hutchins once again! He is returning to the Box Office for the Christmas season because Lauren and I can no longer do it alone. Yes, we are THAT busy!

Mostly, we cannot wait to see this year’s production. Every season brings a new reason to see this production of The Nutcracker because every year the dancers, the lighting, the costumes, the sets all are just a little bit different than they were the year before. We love to stand in the lobby after the curtain goes up and watch the show on the TV monitors. We have so much fun pointing out the little nuances we’ve missed in the past. Maybe this year we’ll catch Lauren doing her best Cabriole (I looked that one up on Wikipedia) through the empty lobby!

Happy holidays!
Dennis (and Lauren) 

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Principal Casting for Ballet San Jose’s ‘The Nutcracker’ 2011

Today is the day many Ballet San Jose fans have been waiting for: the Principal casting for BSJ’s 2011 run of The Nutcracker is finally up! (NOTE: Casting is subject to change.)

12/10 (Matinee) – OPEN
Maria/Prince: Karen Gabay/Rudy Candia
Tsarina/Tsar: Mirai Noda/Maykel Solas
Drosselmeyer: Maximo Califano
Mouse King: Damir Emric

12/10 (Evening)
Maria/Prince: Junna Ige/Ramon Moreno
Tsarina/Tsar: Alexsandra Meijer/Jeremy Kovitch
Drosselmeyer: Maximo Califano
Mouse King: Damir Emric

12/11 (Matinee)
Maria/Prince: Junna Ige/Ramon Moreno
Tsarina/Tsar: Alexsandra Meijer/Jeremy Kovitch
Drosselmeyer: Maximo Califano
Mouse King: Damir Emric

12/17 (Matinee)
Maria/Prince: Alexsandra Meijer/Jeremy Kovitch
Tsarina/Tsar: Beth Ann Namey/Maximo Califano
Drosselmeyer: Raymond Rodriguez
Mouse King: James Kopecky

12/17 (Evening)
Maria/Prince: Mirai Noda/Seth Parker
Tsarina/Tsar: Karen Gabay/Rudy Candia
Drosselmeyer: Hao Bo
Mouse King: Maximo Califano

12/18 (Matinee)
Maria/Prince: Karen Gabay/Rudy Candia
Tsarina/Tsar: Mirai Noda/Maykel Solas
Drosselmeyer: Raymond Rodriguez
Mouse King: James Kopecky

12/20
Maria/Prince: Alexsandra Meijer/Jeremy Kovitch
Tsarina/Tsar: Beth Ann Namey/Maximo Califano
Drosselmeyer: Raymond Rodriguez
Mouse King: James Kopecky

12/21 (Matinee)
Maria/Prince: Mirai Noda/Seth Parker
Tsarina/Tsar: Karen Gabay/Rudy Candia
Drosselmeyer: Hao Bo
Mouse King: Maximo Califano

12/22 (Matinee)
Maria/Prince: Junna Ige/Ramon Moreno
Tsarina/Tsar: Alexsandra Meijer/Jeremy Kovitch
Drosselmeyer: Hao Bo
Mouse King: Maximo Califano

12/23 (Matinee) – CLOSE
Maria/Prince: Karen Gabay/Rudy Candia
Tsarina/Tsar: Mirai Noda/Maykel Solas
Drosselmeyer: Maximo Califano
Mouse King: Damir Emric

Pick your shows, ballet fans, and buy your tickets while they’re still available! Call the Box Office at (408) 288-2800, or visit balletsj.org to buy tickets online.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Ballet San Jose

Our Marketing Director Lee Kopp poses with "Nutty" from Ballet San Jose's THE NUTCRACKER, which opens Dec. 10, 2011.

BSJ Marketing Director Lee Kopp poses with "Nutty" from Ballet San Jose's THE NUTCRACKER, which opens Dec. 10, 2011.

AS THURSDAY APPROACHES, our staff is anticipating a short respite from a busy schedule full of holiday events. Here is a quick recap of some events we’ve had lately:

  • The most important event is, of course, The Nutcracker, which will open Dec. 10th and run through the 23rd. Our dancers, who are on vacation this week, have been rehearsing tirelessly every day. Tickets have been selling like hotcakes! (Dennis and Lauren declined to write a blog post for this week because they have been so busy fielding calls and taking ticket orders.) Our costume staff has been busy as well — though they’ve still had just enough time to give an interview about ballet costuming to Access Magazine. Even our Marketing staff has ventured out of the office to mingle and socialize at local arts events around downtown San Jose.
  • Just last Tuesday, Nov. 15th, Wilkes Bashford, Ballet San Jose and Gentry Magazine threw a fashion fundraiser from which 10% of the proceeds went to the Ballet San Jose School. “An Evening of Cocktails and Couture” was a smashing success. We were delighted to see many of our friends and biggest supporters, and our dancers and staff modeled gorgeous couture fashions for a good cause.
  • We’ve also planned some appearances for our “Nutty” characters for the rest of this month and the beginning of December. This past Monday, Nov. 21st, characters from our Nutcracker dropped by the Downtown Ice opening to skate and take pictures with attendees. The event, which was hosted by Hawaiian Airlines and the San Jose Downtown Association, featured special guest Kristi Yamaguchi and kicked off a seasonal San Jose tradition that is near and dear to many of us. Make sure you check out the ice rink sometime this winter!
  • If you missed “Nutty’s” appearance at the Downtown Ice opening, come out for the Christmas tree lighting at Christmas in the Park this Friday, Nov. 25th. Our Nutcracker characters will be here again, and they will have plenty of time to take pictures with you and your family. All are welcome!

That’s the news from Ballet San Jose. We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it, and a nice long weekend even if you don’t! Please be safe and happy this holiday season. You are all part of the BSJ family.

Cheers,
Ballet San Jose 

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