“The basic show and choreography is the same this year,” says Molly Barber, publicity officer of the Santa Clara Ballet Company. “Mr. Reyes, [founder Josefa Villanueva-Reyes’ late husband], choreographed this Nutcracker many years ago, and this choreography still stands today as a beautiful work.”
Indeed, when the Santa Clara Ballet Company presented full-length shows of the Nutcracker on Dec. 13-14, the dancers’ movements were smooth and well-rehearsed. Also, the stage design successfully created the setting of a holiday-ready home and winter atmosphere. The costumes were vibrant and well-fitted, thanks to parents and volunteers who took the time to produce them.
The roughly 40-50 cast members, young and old, told the story of young Clara, who receives a nutcracker during a Christmas party. Clara’s brother breaks the toy, which was later repaired by the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer. That night, Clara dreams about the Mouse King battling with the Nutcracker prince, the Snow Queen and King frolicking in the Winter Forest, and the sweets and beverages moving merrily about at the Sugarplum Fairy’s party.
The pas de deux, a dance for two, performed throughout the show by various pairs, made the Nutcracker especially eye-pleasing. At the Dec. 13 evening performance, Diya Kapur, a student at Santa Clara’s Stratford School, comfortably danced as Clara in a pas de deux. Kapur balanced herself on the tips of her feet during an elegant pointe dance with the Nutcracker Prince, played by Mikhail Guz. A climax of the pas de deux between the Snow Queen and Snow King, played by Sharon Kung and Marcos Vedovetto, respectively, came when the King lifted the Queen into the air so it appeared she was floating like an angel. The grand pas de deux came as the Sugarplum Fairy and the Cavalier, played by Rowan Allegra Reyes and Jack Hawn, respectively, swirled and spun through the dramatic final dance.
Barber knows firsthand how much dedication is required for a young dancer to prepare for a pas de deux. Her daughter, Catherine, played Clara for two years in previous Nutcracker productions.
“As “Clara’s mom,’ I see that it’s a very complicated and difficult part for a young child to do a pas de deux because it involves partnering and lifts; for these Claras, it’s their first performance on pointe shoes,” Barber says. “It’s like this for Diya and [Melody Summer Williams, who plays the alternate Clara]. And for my daughter, it was the same thing. When Catherine did Clara, it was her first time performing in pointe shoes. You also have a lot of acting to memorize and in the party scenes, you have to lead the other girls.”
The Nutcracker Ballet was created by Marius Petipa and composed by Peter Tchaikovsky. The show premiered in 1892.