World’s most popular ballet opens Friday in Folsom
One of the region’s most prestigious ballet academies will give three performances of a timeless Christmas classic this weekend in Folsom.
Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet opens “The Nutcracker” this Friday night at the Jill Solberg Theater, with following performances Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
“The Nutcracker” is a fantastical tale of a young girl named Clara and her magical journey on Christmas Eve, hand-in-hand with her nutcracker-turned-prince. Choreographed to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovski’s “The Nutcracker Suite,” the show is frequently delightful, occasionally eerie and completely engrossing for audiences of all ages.
The original production was performed in St. Petersburg in 1892. Though the use of child dancers throughout the ballet drew harsh criticism from traditionalists, subsequent performances have earned “The Nutcracker” the title of world’s most recognizable ballet.
This year is the 10th in a row that the Pamela Hayes school has performed “The Nutcracker” in the region. Approximately 75 performers — mostly students from Sacramento, Folsom and El Dorado Hills — will dance under the direction of Pamela Hayes.
Ciera Diaz of El Dorado Hills will portray the titular Nutcracker Prince for this year’s show. The veteran of El Dorado Musical Theater has studied ballet for the past three years to augment his dance repertoire. According to Hayes, a career in dance isn’t out of reach for the Folsom Lake College student.
“Cierra’s first love is musical theatre,” she said. “He realized he needed serious ballet skills to give him a stronger chance at having a career in musical theater. He’s becoming a very serious dancer.”
The lead role of Clara will be provided by Kathryn Doherty, 14, of Granite Bay.
“Kathryn is a wonderful Clara … one of the best we’ve ever had,” Hayes said. “This is something she’s dreamed of since she was a little girl, so we’re all very excited to see her perform.”
Kathryn’s sister, Caroline, 16, will play a Spanish dancer and several other roles.
“The Nutcracker” includes many roles that Pamela Hayes’ young performers are perfectly capable of filling. But several parts call for adult actors, so a handful of special guest stars will make appearances this weekend.
Former professional dancer Michael Olmstad has toured extensively, having performed with Ballet West in Salt Lake City and a major company in Denmark. He will portray Councilman Drosselmeyer — Clara’s mysterious godfather who brings several magical gifts for the children of the house. Olmstad has performed as Drosselmeyer many times, establishing himself as a character performer in the role, Hayes said.
Other guest roles will be performed by Lounge on 20 owner Ali Mackani (The Mouse King and Father) and retired professional dancer Christine Vlach (Mother). Mackani’s son, Dariush, plays Clara’s brother, Fritz.
“The Nutrcracker” will run for three performances Dec. 17-19 at the 700-seat Jill Solberg Performing Arts Theater, 1655 Iron Point Road, in Folsom. Shows begin at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 18 and 19. For tickets visit phcb.org.