Ballet Confections

By Molly Gilmore

In Ballet Northwest’s 34th-annual The Nutcracker, sugarplums will dance, as will candies, mice, snowflakes and toy soldiers. It’s Tchaikovsky’s classic, holiday tale with an extra dash of romance: Clara, the young girl who dreams of wintry fairylands, gets a duet with a prince.

Giving Clara in her toe shoes and the Nutcracker Prince a pas de deux in the Kingdom of Snow is a common alternative to versions that give the romantic dance for two to the Snow Queen and King. It’s a different take for Ballet Northwest. “This is the first time that Clara is doing the snow pas de deux,” said Ken Johnson, the company’s co-artistic director.

The change showcases the skills of the prince, Giovanny Garibay, 15 and a sophomore at Pope John Paul II High School in Lacey, and dancers sharing the role of Clara: Natalie Allenton, 14, of Olympia, a homeschooled sophomore, and Nina Ivanenko, 14 and a freshman at River Ridge in Lacey.

This year’s production, debuting Dec. 7, features 200 dancers of ages 8 and up. Dancing the featured role of the Sugar Plum Fairy will be Elina Brein, 17, of Centralia, a junior at the Insight School of Washington, and Hannah Capper, 17 and a senior at Gig Harbor High School. Two New York-based, professional dancers — Darwin Black, who danced with Sacramento Ballet, and Sanford Placide, formerly of Dance Theatre of Harlem — will share the role of her partner, the Sugar Plum Cavalier. “It’s always a great thing for the audience and for our dancers to have new faces in the production,” Johnson said. “They bring great experience.”

Another treat will be the addition of a trio of French macarons to the Land of the Sweets. Advanced dancers, dressed as pastel, meringue cookies, will dance to music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Both Clara and the confections will have their big moments in Act II, which got a makeover last year with elaborate new sets by Jill Carter. “They were such a huge hit,” Johnson said. “They’re really stunning.”



Ballet Northwest’s The Nutcracker


The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,

512 Washington St. SE, Olympia


7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 7 and 8, 14 and 15; 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16




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