Nutcracker ballet has been captivating young and old for more than 125 years, but Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s version, set in New London in the 1850s, is like none other performed by ballet companies from coast to coast. Guest artists and no less than 100 professionally-trained dancers from ECB will share the spotlight at the Garde Arts Center on Dec. 14 at 1:30 and 7 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
The family-friendly event will feature four guest artists from the renowned New York City Ballet (NYCB). Sara Mearns, who has been called “the great American ballerina of our time,” is every inch the Sugarplum Fairy, ready to cast a spell on audiences. Jared Angle, a dancer who has earned high acclaim in the world of ballet, will join Ms. Mearns as her cavalier. New to the Garde stage this year, ECB welcomes Adrian Danchig-Waring and Unity Phelan as the Snow King and Queen.
The timeless story of a little girl with big dreams who takes a magical voyage around the world, The Nutcracker requires a huge cast of dancers and actors. The ballet brings unforgettable characters to the stage: the heroine Clara and her brave Nutcracker, the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, tiny mice, the Snow King and Snow Queen, sailors and pirates, waltzing flowers, and many more. Tchaikovsky’s musical masterwork captivates audiences with such beloved classics as the Waltz of the Snowflakes. Special effects include a flying Christmas tree, a clock that looks like an owl, and other wizardry, as well as a magical snowstorm onstage.
Few know the world’s most popular ballet as well as ECB artistic director Gloria Govrin. She has performed in, or directed The Nutcracker for decades, often as a soloist with NYCB under the direction of George Balanchine. A legendary ballet master, Balanchine made The Nutcracker an American tradition; the ECB performance captures his spirit in every step and grand jeté.
When the curtain rose at the Garde Arts Center last December, audiences were treated to their first look at ECB’s spectacular new scenery. Stage sets showcase tall ships in port, the New London Custom House, Whale Oil Row, lighthouses, and a sea captain’s Victorian home. Snowflakes swirl over Arctic ice fields where the city’s whaling ships once ventured on harrowing voyages. All of the new sets were the creations of Fufan Zhang, an accomplished set designer and artist who received her MFA from Yale School of Drama.
ECB’s The Nutcracker is truly a community celebration with a special connection to our past and present. It would not be possible without the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our volunteers.
To share the magic of The Nutcracker with friends and family this December, visit gardearts.org or call the Garde box office at 860-444-7373, Ext. 1.
Eastern Connecticut Ballet is a nonprofit organization and one of the state’s premiere schools for dance. Enrollment for inspiring classes for ages 3 through pre-professional and adults is ongoing. For more information and how to register, please visit www.easternctballet.org.