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Luke Isley
Children in the "party scene" surround a mechanical doll in Ballet West's Nutcracker.

SALT LAKE CITY — The spotlight is shining bright on Ballet West. It just received a prestigious invitation to perform its production of "The Nutcracker" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., this December.

Ballet West has performed there a number of times, and in 2008 the company opened the festival "Ballet Across America," wowing the audience who received them with whistles and cheers.

But those performances were not full-length productions; that has not happened for more than 20 years. Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute gives credit to a review last year from the New York Times dance critic.

"Seeing this review and saying Ballet West's 'Nutcracker' is one of the best productions this reviewer had ever seen, certainly inspired them," he said.

Ballet West founder Willem Christensen produced the first full-length "Nutcracker" seen in America, so he will receive the honors as well.

The "Nutcracker" will still be produced at Capitol Theatre. Its run will be cut short by a week in December.

The company is also the focus of a BBC production titled "Breaking Pointe,” which will air this summer on the CW channel. Producers say this is their answer to the film "Black Swan," which featured some negative sides of ballet. They say it will focus on real dancers' lives.