THE NUTCRACKER – Confection Perfection at San Francisco Ballet

Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

San Francisco Ballet’s THE NUTCRACKER is spectacular. Choreographed by Helgi Tomasson and presented first in 2004, the ballet’s setting in San Francisco at the time of the 1915 World’s Fair continues to provide that unusual touch of magic and sense of wonder which distinguishes this realization of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s most popular ballet. Though the darker side of the original storyline is suppressed in favor of a more up-lifting attitude and charm, the special effects of scenic designer Michael Yeargan and lighting designer James F. Ingalls seduce the viewer into a dazzling world that waits just one step beyond and into the outer limits.

All production photos by Erik Tomasson

The brilliant costume designs by Martin Pakledinaz are in true “Once upon a time” storybook tradition, reflecting the elegance of the City’s Edwardian period, the best in toy store novelty for the warring mice and Nutcracker Prince, and regal opulence for the King and Queen of the Snow, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Clara’s golden transformation in the Grand Pas de Deux. The Company is fortunate in having Martin West as its Music Director. Acknowledged as one of the best conductors of ballet in the world, Mr. West brings freshness and zeal to the traditions of the score and is absolutely on the mark with the dynamics of the principle dancers.

FRANCES CHUNG – as “The Sugar Plum Fairy”

The Opening Night cast included Nicole Finken as “Clara” and Gennadi Nedvigin as her Nutcracker Prince. Following his stunning performance as “Franz” in last season’s Coppelia, Mr. Nedvigin continually proves his versatility as a romantic leading man. Again paired with the wondrous Maria Kotchekova, the couple were a sensational match in the climactic Grand Pas de Deux. The mischief and acrobatic delights of the “Dancing Dolls” was provided by Garen Scribner, Clara Blanco, and Daniel Baker. Newlyweds Davit Karapetyan and Vanessa Zahorian were featured as the “King and Queen of the Snow”, and sweet and lovely Frances Chung was the perfect “Sugar Plum Fairy”. Elana Altman and her muscular partners Quinn Wharton and Anthony Spaulding were a hot and spicy blend in The Arabian Dance (aka, the “Coffee Dance”). Lonnie Weeks was amazingly aggressive in the “Chinese Dance”, followed by the totally charming members of the best Dragon in town. Pascal Molat again brought the biggest roar from the crowd with his gravity-defying leaps in The Russian Dance.

ARABIAN DANCE – Quinn Wharton, Elana Altman, Anthony Spaulding


The Nutcracker continues through December 27th. Click here for ticket information: THE NUTCRACKER

This Christmas, send a child to the ballet. Created in 1992, San Francisco Ballet’s Children’s Enchantment Fund provides under-served children and families the opportunity to see San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker free of charge – and you can help. For many, the Children’s Enchantment Fund (CHEF) offers both a first trip to the War Memorial Opera House and a rare opportunity to see a live dance performance. Through San Francisco Ballet’s partnership with Community Access Ticket Services, which identifies families served by over 100 social service agencies throughout the Bay Area, the Children’s Enchantment Fund has so far enabled over 27,000 under-served children and their families to attend San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker at no cost. This has been made possible by the generosity of individual ballet trustees and patrons. Click here to help send a child to the ballet this holiday season Children’s Enchantment Fund.

GRAND PAS DE DEUX – Maria Kochetkova and Gennadi Nedvigin


The Sentinel’s own editor Sean Martinfield is interviewed by David Perry on Comcast. Catch the Action!
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