The Nutcracker: Denver’s 59th Year of Holiday Enchantment


Leaping back for a 59th season of pirouettes, plies, and graceful lifts it’s The Nutcracker. This holiday season the Colorado Ballet returns for another year of retelling the classic tale. Residing in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Performing Arts Complex from November 30th to December 29th, The Nutcracker is back to dazzle you. I had a wonderful time.

As you may know, The Nutcracker is about a young girl (Clara played by Mackenzie Dessens, Emily Speed, and Sarah Tryon) who goes to a Christmas party and receives a delicate nutcracker as her gift. She goes on an adventure encountering the mouse king and defeating him, and for her reward she is given many foreign gifts from abroad. Clara soon wakes to realize it was all a dream.

The cast consists of rotating characters that switch out depending on each performance. Dancers like the Sugarplum Fairy alternate from Chandra Kuykendall, Asuka Sasaki, and Dana Benton. All are principal dancers, the highest rank you can be in the Colorado Ballet company. All of the dancing was extremely energizing and elegant, and the orchestra performed the Tchaikovsky score beautifully.

The props and sets were also stunning. For example, the Christmas tree at the party grew and emerged from the ground, making for a spectacular visual marvel. Clara and the Nutcracker arose from the fog in a swan, and how we will never know. In the snowflake scene, snow gracefully drifted from the ceiling.

The Colorado Ballet’s costumes are meticulous and impeccable with detail, and for this production no effort was spared. The Columbine Fairy wears a dress in the party scene embellished with beads and jewels. The Sugarplum Fairy has a violet and ivory dress with a structured tutu, also with abundant sparkles.

Hints of modernization and humor were included. Mother Ginger danced the sprinkler and other dances which not only gave a hilarious approach, but a modern look to The Nutcracker. This was not in the original. Not only this, but when the mouse king dies his soldiers attempt to give him CPR. Kudos to the Colorado Ballet for ingenuity.

As for the age range, this kind of performance is for all. While I was there, I saw children from the ages of 5 to 90+ year-old seniors. There is no better way to celebrate your holiday cheer, regardless of age. If you are looking to spend the best 2 hours of your Christmastime in a beautiful opera house with excellent sound transmission, why not?

The Ellie Caulkins Opera House will be hosting this incredible cast of prodigious dancers with The Nutcracker throughout the holiday season. Buy your tickets ahead of time; this magical holiday tradition is sure to be sold out!