California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    The land of suites

    It was the night before Christmas and all through the house, creatures were stirring, especially a villainous mouse. But have no fear, the nutcracker prince is here to save the girl from the Mouse King and to take her away to lands filled with snow and Sugar Plum fairies.

    Photo by Robert Yeager - Courtesy of the Alliance for the Arts
    Photo by Robert Yeager – Courtesy of the Alliance for the Arts

    The time has arrived for the Pacific Festival Balletโ€™s 22nd Annual โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ performances at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza on Dec. 19-20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

    Pacific Festival Balletโ€™s performances include dancers from the California Dance Theater and features two principal ballet dancers from The New York City Ballet, Tiler Peck and Gonzalo Garcia. PFB also brings in the Kalinin Russian Dance Troupe for an authentic portrayal of the Russian folk dance. According to the PFB Facebook page, โ€œAlexander Kalinin is recognized as one of the premier Russian Dance choreographers in the world.โ€

    Tiler Peck, a native Californian, has been a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet since 2009,ย  according to her profile on the NYC Balletโ€™s website. Gonzalo Garcia, who originates from Spain, joined the NYC Ballet after being invited to perform โ€œBallo della Regina.โ€

    Both highly accomplished dancers come from ballet companies that have helped bring โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ to the United States.

    According to The Nutcracker website, the San Francisco Ballet, where Garcia was a principal dancer in 2002, was the first to perform the ballet in the U.S. However, The New York City Ballet, where both Garcia and Peck are currently principal dancers, helpedย  โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ take off after it became a hit in New York City.

    Carrie Barnett, Development Director for Pacific Festival Ballet, said what sets PFB apart from other portrayals of โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ are their costumes, dancers and the snow that falls on the audience during the performance.

    โ€œIt makes for a really fun and memorable performance,โ€ Barnett said.

    Barnett also said โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ is โ€œthe holiday tradition you canโ€™t beat,โ€ which is why the Civic Arts Plazaโ€™s Alliance for the Arts tries to help children through the Kids in the Arts program to attend โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ who may not have the means to experience it.

    Cara Cohen, Membership Director for Alliance of the Arts, said Kids in the Arts is โ€œan opportunity for children to come to see live theatre whoโ€™ve never experienced live theatre before.โ€

    Alliance for the Arts is a non-profit sector of the Civic Arts Plaza. They provide community grants to local performances, as well as the Kids in the Arts program, with the help of the Angels of the Alliance, who Cohen said are essential to their fundraising.

    California Lutheran University is a big donator of the alliance, whoโ€™s founding chair was Cal Lutheranโ€™s second president, Raymond M. Olson.

    Lynda Fulford, Associate Vice President for University Relations, said in an email interview, โ€œCLU has always been a leader in the arts โ€“ academically for our students and culturally for the community. โ€

    โ€œBy supporting the visual and performing arts and artists in the community, it helps to strengthen Cal Lutheranโ€™s cultural offerings and services to the students and the community,โ€ Fulford said.

    Both the Alliance for the Arts and Cal Lutheran strive to bring accessibility of the arts to the community. Both the Kids in the Arts program and Kingsmen Shakespeare Company provide supplemented performances or workshops to various schools in the Conejo Valley area.

    โ€œWe kind of expose them and bring them to that world of theatreโ€ Barnett said. โ€œWe have students that are privileged enough to be ballerinas and to dance, but then they get to dance for these other students and they can connect to them.โ€

    According to Barnett, they have children as young as five years old in the California Dance Theater performing โ€œThe Nutcracker,โ€ and she believes it could be an inspiration for some of the children watching the ballet to want to be dancers too.

    โ€œItโ€™s something that they really havenโ€™t seen before. โ€˜The Nutcrackerโ€™ is different than musical theatre or plays they usually have seen, itโ€™s a different artistic expression,โ€ Cohen said.

    With โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ you get a battle, a love story of the prince and princess, as well as different lands and creatures created by the imagination of a child on a Christmas Eveโ€™s night.

    โ€œ[Pacific Festival Balletโ€™s] โ€˜The Nutcrackerโ€™ is such a really fun performance. The costumes are beautiful, the music is classical, the dancing is just top-notch,โ€ Barnett said.

    โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ has been performed in many different variations making each performance unique. Though the tale focuses on children and toys, for Barnett โ€œThe Nutcrackerโ€ can be enjoyed by all during the Christmas season.

    For more information about Pacific Festival Balletโ€™s โ€œThe Nutcracker,โ€ visit the Civic Arts Plaza website. Tickets are available at the Thousand Oaks Civic Art Plazaโ€™s box office or online at Ticketmaster.

    Sarah Hernandez
    Staff Writer
    Published December 9th, 2015