Aspen Santa Fe Ballet prepares for annual performances of ‘The Nutcracker’ |

Aspen Santa Fe Ballet prepares for annual performances of ‘The Nutcracker’

Andrew Travers Photos by Anna Stonehouse
The Aspen Times

If You Go …

What: ‘The Nutcracker,’ presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet

Where: Aspen District Theatre

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 11, 1 & 5 p.m.

How much: $25-$94

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;

Stepping into the Aspen District Theatre this week felt like entering a winter dreamscape, a realm of beauty and magic. The familiar lilt of Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” filled the theater, a dozen pink-clad flower ballerinas were flitting across the stage and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Jenelle Figgins was entering for her solo under a glowing golden proscenium.

The locally based company was in its last rounds of dress rehearsals for its annual production of “The Nutcracker” — running Dec. 10 and 11 in Aspen and Dec. 17 and 18 in Santa Fe — putting the final touches on the Christmas classic: perfecting the spacing between flower corps, tweaking the placement of their tiaras, walking through the steps of the high-drama pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy (Aspen Santa Fe newcomer Anna Gerberich) and her Cavalier (Pete Leo Walker, reprising his role from last year), practicing their lifts and taking their places for the grand finale.

Aspen Santa Fe “Nutcracker” plays out on an epic scale — seemingly in another creative universe form the sleek contemporary works that are its signature. This annual production offers fans a rare opportunity to see the local company performing classical ballet. Most contemporary choreographers don’t utilize tutus and en pointe dancing and other hallmarks of classical ballet, so “The Nutcracker” tests the company dancer’s classical chops.

In addition to the 11 Aspen Santa Fe dancers who will be performing those pieces this winter, the company’s “Nutcracker” enlists a cast of hundreds. There are 10 guest professional dancers from around the U.S., a group of guest artists to perform the divertissements — a Chinese ribbon dancer, an aerialist, circus performers and more — and nearly 80 children and students in each performance playing mice and soldiers, dolls and snowflakes.