Exciting changes coming for The Nutcracker in 2017
SALT LAKE CITY – February 1, 2015 –On the heels of a record-breaking year for its venerable production of The Nutcracker, Ballet West is thrilled to announce the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation has awarded a generous grant of $2 million to enrich and enhance the physical production of Willam Christensen’s beloved ballet, The Nutcracker.
While the new production will maintain entirely the historic choreography of Ballet West’s founder, Willam Christensen, along with Tchaikovsky’s famous score, the grant will be used to update, redesign, and construct fantastical sets, costumes, and props. According to Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute, “During his lifetime, ‘Mr. C’ frequently updated The Nutcracker to keep it fresh and alive, but he maintained the framework and charm of the story, which kept audiences coming back every year. Our intention with this generous gift from the Eccles Foundation is to keep the choreography exactly the same while updating the physical production.” Added Sklute, “I’m looking forward to even incorporating some spectacular effects that ‘Mr. C’ originally imagined, but did not have the technology or funding to accomplish during his lifetime. This gift will help us honor his vision and move it into the future.”
Sklute and the Ballet West team will work to produce a dreamlike and dazzling new production for the 21st century. Work on the project has already begun, with the first performances of the re-imagined production to premiere during the 2017 holiday season.
“We are thrilled to partner with Ballet West to ensure that The Nutcracker remains vibrant and exciting for future audiences,” said Spencer F. Eccles, Chairman & CEO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. “With our foundation’s legacy of support for Ballet West now spanning more than 30 years, this represents a significant way in which we can help ensure the Company’s continued growth in both artistic excellence and economic vitality,” said Eccles.
The Nutcracker‘s current sets and costumes, originally designed by Ariel Ballif and David Heuvel, are now 30 years old, requiring constant, extensive, and expensive refurbishments every season. Next year, Ballet West’s 2016 production of The Nutcracker will be the farewell season before the physical production is retired in its hometown of Salt Lake City.
Sklute will oversee the new designs, working closely with the Willam Christensen family, Company Archivist Bruce Caldwell, and longtime Ballet West associate and Christensen’s first Ballet Mistress, Bené Arnold. Together, they will ensure that the integrity of Mr. Christensen’s vision and choreography is steadfastly maintained.
Said Ballet West Executive Director Scott Altman, “This re-investment into one of our cherished and beloved ballets will not only make it stronger, but also deliver a more vibrant production with which future generations can ‘fall in love’ all over again!” Added Altman, “The joy and magic of The Nutcracker is destined to be amplified by the refreshed physical components, and in the end, it will very much remain Willam Christensen’s The Nutcracker.”
“Attending The Nutcracker has been a special part of our family’s holiday tradition for decades,” said Eccles Foundation President & COO Lisa Eccles, “just as it has for so many others. This production is going to bring with it a new kind of magic, with elements that will ‘wow’ every audience member! We’re honored to make it possible for Ballet West to bring the story to life in ways Mr. C only dreamed might be possible, and to ensure that the deep affection of our community for The Nutcracker remains for decades to come … as we continue this 60-year tradition in our state for at least 60 more!”
Those interested in information about the development of the reimagined Nutcracker can sign up for regular email blasts at balletwest.org/nutcracker2017.