Mayor in "The Nutcracker" |

Mayor in "The Nutcracker"

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet has been presenting its annual holiday-time production of “The Nutcracker” for decades.

But the ballet, based on the E.T.A. Hoffman story of little Clara’s Christmas Eve dream of wicked mice and brave toy soldiers and set to the Tchaikovsky score, is over 100 years old. Finding a way to keep the production fresh has always been a goal for the ballet.

To that end, co-artistic directors Jean-Philippe Malaty and Tom Mossbrucker continually tinker with their original choreography, bring in guest professional dancers, and upgrade the already lavish sets and costumes.

This year, they’re bringing in the mayor to play the governess.

Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud will dance the role of the Governess in the evening performance on Saturday, Dec. 20, only.

“The Nutcracker” will have five performances this weekend: evening shows tonight through Sunday, at 7:30 p.m., and matinee shows Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. All performances are at the Aspen District Theatre.

At this year’s Summer Sizzler, the ballet’s annual summer benefit event, Klanderud was sitting with ballet patrons Peggy and Alan Hunt. During the auction, an onstage role in “The Nutcracker” was auctioned off. The Hunts were the highest bidder and stated, on the spot, that they were offering the role to Klanderud. The mayor accepted.

“She had studied dance as a child, so she was so excited,” said Malaty. Malaty, too, was looking forward to seeing Klanderud onstage. “That’s fun for us, to involve the community while raising money,” he said. “And it’s not something we do all the time.”

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