Four world-class dancers from New York City Ballet (NYCB) will bring extra “star power” to The Nutcracker at the Garde Arts Center in New London this December. The NYCB guest artists will light up the stage in leading roles with 100 professionally trained dancers from Eastern Connecticut Ballet (ECB).
Tickets are on sale for three performances: Saturday, Dec. 14 at 1:30 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m.
The world’s most popular ballet, The Nutcracker continues to wow children and adults alike with its stellar dancing, memorable music and shimmering spectacle.
NYCB’s principal dancer Sara Mearns, who has been called “the great American ballerina of our time,” will return to the ECB Nutcracker this year. As the Sugarplum Fairy, Mearns will demonstrate her incandescent stage presence and power as a dancer.
In the role of her Cavalier will be the acclaimed Jared Angle, also a principal dancer with NYCB. With his gravity-defying moves, Angle will share the spotlight for some of the ballet’s most breathtaking moments.
New to the Garde stage, ECB will welcome two other dynamic young dancers from NYCB to play the Snow King and Snow Queen. The titles are fitting for both, who are among the royals in the world of ballet: Adrian Danchig-Waring, whose commanding talent has earned him the rank of principal dancer; and soloist Unity Phelan, a rising star known for her energy, esprit, and elegance.
ECB has many special connections to New York City Ballet, thanks to the school’s artistic director Gloria Govrin. Formerly a soloist with NYCB under the direction of George Balanchine, Govrin once thrilled audiences for The Nutcracker in a role that Balanchine created just for her. Now she combines her experience and vision to direct ECB’s production.
A legendary ballet master and founder of NYCB, Balanchine made The Nutcracker an American tradition. Sixty-five years later, the ECB performance captures his spirit in every step and grand jeté.
Set in New London in the 1850s, ECB’s Nutcracker is like none of the many adaptations offered by ballet companies from coast to coast every December. Although its plot is a simple one — a little girl with big dreams takes a magical voyage around the world —The Nutcracker is a complex production that requires a huge cast of dancers and actors. Among these are the heroine Clara and her brave Nutcracker, mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, tiny mice, sailors and pirates, waltzing flowers, the spicy Mother Ginger, and many more.
Tchaikovsky’s music captivates audiences with well-known symphonic melodies. Adding to the fun are special effects such as a flying Christmas tree, a clock that resembles an owl, a magical ship in motion, a mysterious fog at sea, and an onstage snowstorm for the Waltz of the Snowflakes.
Last December, audiences were treated to their first look at ECB's new scenery. The New London set showcases tall ships in port, the city’s Custom House, Whale Oil Row, lighthouses, and a sea captain's Victorian home. Snowflakes swirl over another set featuring the Arctic ice fields where the city's whaling ships once ventured on harrowing voyages.
“ECB's Nutcracker is our gift to the community during the holiday season. Many of our dancers are young men and women from throughout Eastern Connecticut; this is their moment to shine after months of practice and rehearsals,” said Lise Reardon, executive director and founder of ECB.
Two of the five performances are offered at no charge for groups of school children on the Friday before the public performances. The entire weekend is made possible by the dedication of volunteers and the support of many donors. A full list of 2019 donors and sponsors is posted at easternctballet.org.
Tickets may be purchased by visiting tickets.gardearts.org, calling the Garde at 860-444-7373, Ext 1, or visiting the box office at 325 State St. in New London. Special rates are available for seniors (65 and over), military, and groups of 15 or more.