Some go for sugar plums; others toy soldiers. Some like a candyland; others a carousel. It’s all part of the variegated fun that is The Nutcracker ballet, a solid version of which will spool in three shows this weekend at The Soraya. It is the nearly 25-year old rendering by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet that is making its Southern California debut at the Soraya’s splendid house.
Among the contingent of balletomanes, some keep their eye peeled on the Sugar Plum Fairy, a role of great valor that will be guest-danced by Jeraldine Mendoza Saturday night only.
But others will opt for her handsome Cavalier, the heartthrob Dylan Gutierrez, pictured above, who will partner Mendoza in the grand pas de deux that culminates the ballet. Dylan is a local hero, having trained with his mother (she runs the Los Angeles Ballet Academy that also supplies sixty children for the production). After that solid foundation, Gutierrez got a two-year scholarship from the Royal Ballet School in London at age 16. Following one year with San Francisco Ballet, he signed with The Joffrey in Chicago, where he now dances. Wow, is he a beauty.
Mendoza, also a Cali native, grew up in San Francisco where she started her ballet training at age five. She, too, studied overseas, at the school of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. Mendoza is not only Gutierrez’s favorite partner, but his fiancee.
This stuff matters. The ballet is always a family affair, featuring kids, costumes, gizmos and winter dreams. But at one point, Mr. Tchaikovsky takes control; out pours his glorious music; and onto stage steps a duo that’s a cut above the rest. And every kid — adults too — sit up with attention. This is star power exactly where it belongs, in a bravura pas de deux — but one with an undeniable local flavor. We’re going!
THE NUTCRACKER | Aspen Santa Fe Ballet | The Soraya | Dec 7-8