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Dance review: 'Nutcracker' magic is back

Published: Tuesday, July 28 2015 5:08 a.m. MDT

Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King battle each other while Clara looks on in Nutcracker Prince and the Mouse King battle each other while Clara looks on in "The Nutcracker." (Ryan Galbraith, Ballet West)
BALLET WEST, "THE NUTCRACKER," Capitol Theatre, Friday, additional performances through Dec. 29, 355-2787 or 888-451-2787.
Mr. C would've been proud.
That's right, the late Willam F. Christensen, founder of Ballet West and the man who created the first full-length "Nutcracker" in the United States would have been very happy with what the company did Friday night.
After hours of meetings, current artistic director Adam Sklute and his advisors — including former company ballet mistresses Bene Arnold and Pamela Robinson-Harris and ballet master Bruce Caldwell — decided to bring back the magic of the ballet by reincorporating moments and pieces of the work that had been cut out throughout the the past 50-plus years.
The result — simply put, the magic is back.
With Christiana Bennett and Christopher Ruud dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, the audience members knew they were in for a treat. But just how sweet that treat would be was realized during the grand pas de deux.
Each step was done with care and precision.
This year, there are more steps. It's like watching an extended version of "The Nutcracker" with bonus features.
Another noticeable change is the addition of a male dancer during the Spanish divertissements. In fact, with the male dancer gives the dance a matadorish, Paso Doble feel, with the women symbolizing the matador cape.
The Snow scene gave the first act a shot in the arm as Hua Zhuang and Annie Breneman flowed across the stage Friday night.
There are other highlights in this year's production.
The Russian dance, which is always a favorite among the audience, features five frisky and strong dancers.
Even the Waltz of the Flowers' selection seemed a few notches higher this year.
Throughout Friday's production, the men seemed to soar in their leaps and the women were not merely stepping through the motions, but actually feeling the roles.
For more than 50 years, Ballet West has enchanted Utah with "The Nutcracker." Friday night's performance could easily have been one of the best performances.
And somewhere, Mr. C is smiling.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com

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