As the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet company has earned stellar reviews around the country, and become a must-see performance locally, the organization remains connected to its roots. Before there was a resident company presenting masterworks by Balanchine and Tharp, there were the tiny dancers of the Aspen Ballet School doing “The Nutcracker” every Christmas season. The annual staging has, of course, been upgraded, with lavish sets, loads of guest artists, and the dancers of the ASFB. But it still serves as a spotlight and training ground for scores of aspiring young, local ballerinas. “The Nutcracker” is Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 20-21, with matinee and evening performances each day, at the Aspen District Theatre.
Rose Hill Drive has said they are tiring of the inevitable comparisons to vintage hard-rock groups: Cream, Led Zeppelin, etc. The Boulder trio’s second album, “Moon Is the New Earth,” released in June, was hardly a departure from their roots in ’60s/’70s hard rock, but it went a long way toward establishing their own style, with distinctive songs like “Laughing in the Streets,” the punkish “A Better Way” and the sedate “One Night Stand.” Still, it will be hard not to flash back to 1969 (to be very specific, Oct. 22 of 1969) when the band makes its latest trip to Aspen. Rose Hill Drive will play all of the classic “Led Zeppelin II” (“Whole Lotta Love,” “Ramble On,” “Heartbreaker”) before moving into their own material. The show is set for Saturday, Dec. 20.
The Holocaust drama “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” asks us to suspend our disbelief in myriad, extreme ways. You could repeatedly walk up to the fence of a Nazi concentration camp without ever being questioned? An 8-year-old German boy can disappear from his home for hours, during wartime, without being missed? That same bright boy can mistake that camp for a farm? And not realize that his father is the commandant of that camp, located in his backyard? Put those questions on hold, however, and the film works well on the emotional level, putting a human face on Nazi atrocities. And the final sequence breaks your heart bit by bit as it unfolds, as the German family pays the price ” appropriate? or not? ” of its evil. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” starring an outstanding Vera Farmiga as the mother caught in between the Nazi machine and basic humanity, is at the Wheeler Opera House, Sunday through Tuesday, Dec. 14-16.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.