This weekend this weekend the “Nutcracker” ballet comes to the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. Dancers from the Vail Valley Academy of Dance have been preparing the show, which runs from Friday-Sunday, and are excited for the audience to see the classic holiday production.
The VVAD has the new artistic director this year, Ashley Calligan. While certainly keeping the spirit of the show and its traditions, Calligan has instituted some new characters and stage designs to breathe new life into the VVAD traditional performance, which occurs every other year.
“The story sticks pretty closely to what the story is, but I brought in different elements of things I’ve done in the past,” Calligan said.
She said she changed 90% of the choreography, and her husband and VVAD Chief Financial Officer Ryan Calligan is building all-new sets for the show, including a big fireplace that the dancers will run through. She also added some additional characters.
“I wanted to make sure that all the kids who dedicate their lives to coming here every day have something that they’re proud of,” she said.
One other thing Calligan has done this year is bring in to professional dancers to dance alongside the lead roles in the ballet. Snow Queen Olivia Pyke and Lead Arabian Margaux Stavney will be dancing with Michael Stone, and Sugarplum Fairy Taylor Petrowski will be dancing with Nathan Crewe-Kluge.
“I was in my first ‘Nutcracker’ ten years ago,” Petrowski said. “I’ve wanted to be Sugarplum since my very first ‘Nutcracker.’ I get to dance big and be very regal.”
Both of the VVAD dancers were excited to try partnering, dancing with someone of the opposite sex, for the first time on stage. They each said that they’d learned how to do it at summer intensives and were excited to hone a new skill. They also admit that it was challenging to rehearse without their partner present. The two professionals are from out-of-state and only were able to rehearse with their partners the four days before the show.
“Right now, I’m learning what I will be doing when he comes,” Pyke said in November.
“I don’t know he’s going to dance, and I don’t know how we’re going to dance together. I’ve partnered before, but it’s always different,” Petrowski elaborated.
It’s no secret that dancers spend practically all their time all their free time rehearsing, and that’s certainly the case for VVAD. Nutcracker rehearsals are in addition to all of their other classes which are required to maintain status in the dance company. Prospective dancers try out at the beginning of the school year, the cast list is announced and rehearsals start soon after. Pyke said they rehearse “Nutcracker” after regular dance class for five hours throughout the week, and then on Saturdays, they work from 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. on average.
“I have to have five pointe shoes,” Petrowski said. “I have a pair for the dress rehearsals and a pair for every show because I don’t want them to break.”
Despite the long hours and hard work, the dancers are excited to share the classic Christmas story with audiences at the Vilar. Shows take place on Friday, Dec. 13, Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15. For tickets, visit vilarpac.org or call 970-845-8497.
If you go …
When: Friday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 15, 2 p.m.
Where: The Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
More information: Visit vilarpac.org or call 970-845-8497.