A holiday classic, Central California Ballet’s The Nutcracker, returns to Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre this weekend. The performances feature dancers from the Central Valley.
“All of the roles are performed by local dancers, from the smallest Bon-Bon to the most mature, Snow Queen,” said Sandra Gostanian, with the Lively Arts Foundation. “I have been performing in The Nutcracker since 1995 as a Party Parent, most years as Mrs. Stahlbaum.”
In 1989, Frank and Diane Mosier founded the Lively Arts Foundation, a non-profit, designed to bring world-class dance, music and dramatic entertainment to the residents of the San Joaquin Valley. The show the organization is most known for is the yearly performance of The Nutcracker.
“The story of The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition around the world,” Gostanian said. “It is a warm story of love with bits of whimsical humor laced in. The Nutcracker Ballet is often the first ballet children experience.”
Diane Mosier is the owner of Northwest Studio for Ballet at Bullard and West in Fresno. Many of the dancers who perform in The Nutcracker train at her studio. A handful of professional dancers are also hired to perform the lead roles of Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy.
Auditions take place in August and rehearsals began soon after.
“The Bon-Bons are the youngest members of the cast and are usually budding gymnasts,” Gostanian said. “Children in the Party Scene have taken ballet classes for a few years, as have some of the adults in the Party Scene. The mature teens and young adult dancers have been taking a ballet class several times each week for years and are quite accomplished. Everyone enjoys having the professionals dance with us. They are always very inspirational to watch as they warm-up, focus on the performance, and enjoy the festivities of the Nutcracker season.”
Tickets are available at the Saroyan Theatre Box Office for Saturday’s 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances, as well as Sunday’s 2 p.m. show. They range from $35 to $68 and can also be purchased through Ticketmaster.
“People of all ages enjoy the quality of dancing and acting from cast members of all ages,” Gostanian said. “Children, especially, are caught up with the beauty and artistic talents of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.”
In addition to the weekend performances, there is a special performance for students from local schools that takes place on Friday.
“The favorite show for the entire cast is the Friday school show performance,” Gostanian said.“Children from throughout the Central Valley come to see the ballet at a very reduced price. For most of the children and for many of their teachers, this will be their introduction to a ballet performance.”
The Lively Arts Foundation begins planning next year’s Nutcracker as soon as this year’s finishes. They have to seek out financial grants and new donors to keep this Valley tradition alive.
“While Fresno is located in close proximity to cultural hubs like San Francisco and Los Angeles, many people are not able to travel to see professional performances,” Gostanian said. “Performing arts allow people opportunities to develop creativity and communication skills. The Nutcracker is a fun and entertaining way to experience the “stage of life”. Quite simply, we all have a great time and have made lifetime memories and friends.”
To learn more about The Nutcracker visit LivelyArts.org