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REVIEW: Ellie Caulkins Opera House hosts magical rendition of 'The Nutcracker' by Colorado Ballet

By Sarah Kirby
On December 19, 2012

  • Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov perform in the Colorado Ballet's 2012 rendition of 'the Nutcracker.'. Courtesy of Mike Watson—Colorado Ballet

 The rich golden paint outlining the fairytale words, "once upon a time," introduced the Colorado's Ballet's rendition of "The Nutcracker" to a sold out audience last Saturday at Ellie Caulkins Opera House at 14th and Curtis in downtown Denver. Families and friends attended the ballet, many of which outwardly wore their Christmas cheer in a sea full of red, green, and gold that accented the masterfully crafted set design by José Varona.

Live music from the Colorado Ballet Orchestra played Pyotr Tchaikovsky's famous score, which lifted and twirled the dancers of the Colorado Ballet and Colorado Ballet Academy on a journey to Toyland. With candy cane trees and sugarplum fairies, The Nutcracker sported the elements of a dream come to life.  Running until December 24, this is the Colorado Ballet's 52nd year to run the "The Nutcracker," but this year they gave the holiday classic a modern twist.

While traditional ballet choreography created the majority of the show, breaks for modern dance encouraged audiences to engage in this tale with laughter filling the opera hall. With 1980's sprinkler dance moves and Jersey Shore fist pump's, Mama Ginger spiced up her already oversized costume and phantasmagoric mask. Likewise, The Rat Kings's groovy moves illustrated a lighthearted interpretation of his inevitable death.

Layers encased the majority of the performance adding depth to a capricious type of technicality that showcased dancers moving with ease.  Lace framed the stage, as Clara played by Dana Benton displayed soft but discipline movements that were conveyed with talent and poise. Additionally, chandeliers hung from the stage, and snow fell at different scenes, which made for an intricate visual aspect that accompanied the dancers.

Mystical realism cloaked the performance of Herr Drosslemyer played by Gregory K. Gonzales. His ability to bring a toy to life was well portrayed, and the magic did not stop. Clara and the Nutcracker Prince flew away in a carriage while the delicate timbre of violin strings took them away from a winter wonderland where snowflakes came to life. This performance of "The Nutcracker" truly personified a candy land dream accompanied by an outstanding cast, and is a visual and musical treat for any and every age.  

Located in the heart of the Denver performing Arts center, tickets range from $28-154 with discounts for students. To inquire about tickets one can either call 303-837-888 or go to their website at


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