Musical pieces from The Nutcracker have endured as Christmastime classics since the ballet’s premiere in 1892. The Nutcracker is an annual staple in the repertoire of dance companies around the world and a favourite among audiences.
St. Paul and District Arts Foundation will present its own annual Nutcracker this weekend for the tenth time. It was an ambitious undertaking from the start, but it has grown and changed over the years and become a St. Paul Christmas tradition.
“It initially got started by some interested parents in our community who thought that putting on an annual performance of the Nutcracker, using dancers within our community, would be a good idea,” said Valerie Pratch, the Arts Foundation’s treasurer.
The presentation is different every year, as the show has evolved to include amateur and professional performers from St. Paul and beyond.
“It’s always modified according to how the artistic director sees it,” Pratch explained. “It’s also developed to include a second act with multicultural dancers. And with that comes some Government of Alberta funding to help with that, so that’s been a substantial lift to the performance.”
This year’s artistic director is Dave Ganert, once of Canada’s leading chorographers and directors.
Pratch said St. Paul’s Nutcracker reflects the changing community.
“It definitely gives a platform for local amateur talent and professional talent to get involved, which is lovely because there’s not a lot of avenues for that,” she said. “And it does try to bring out that St Paul is becoming quite a place of multiculturalism—trying to bring your community more together, that the face of it is changing constantly and we should be aware of those changes.”
The Nutcracker continued through the Covid pandemic restrictions by presenting performances virtually. But live performances are always more exciting, and the performances draw visitors to St. Paul.
This year’s version will present two performances on Saturday December 2 and another matinee December 3. All performances are at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Cultural Centre; tickets are available through artfoundation.ca or at Happy House Healthy Foods and Supplements.