Artistic Director, Ballet West
Welcome to Ballet West’s production of The Nutcracker generously brought to you by KSL-TV through the magic of BYUtv and Kaleidoscope Pictures.
Ballet West is blessed to have the first full-length version of The Nutcracker in America. Choreographed by our founder Willam Christensen in 1944 when he was the Artistic Director of The San Francisco Ballet. “Mr. C” moved back to Utah in the early 1950s and he brought his production with him. Since then, and until this year, Ballet West has had a solid unbroken run of Mr. C’s The Nutcracker.
At first, we were determined not to break our live run of this beloved Utah tradition, and we worked hard to create a modified version to give our artists, our musicians, our crew, and hundreds of children a chance to perform. We planned on calling it “After Christensen” and my amazing artistic staff retooled the production to incorporate proper social distancing and all the guidelines needed to produce a safe and healthy live theater experience for everyone while staying true to Mr. C’s vision. However, ultimately, live performances, this year became impossible.
All of us at Ballet West, however, remained committed to bringing our public and the world, the joys of our uniquely American production of The Nutcracker and again we were blessed with this spectacular filming. Last season, 2019, was the 75th Anniversary of the premiere of Mr. C’s iconic ballet. To celebrate, we partnered with BYUtv who commissioned Kaleidoscope Pictures to film and edit the ballet for television. The result, this glorious film version, is so vibrant and full of life it is almost as if we are experiencing it live.
The process of producing this film was quite an endeavor. Based on time, theater availability, and funding we actually did not film it during the December theater run but rather, we couldn’t get started until February – right smack in the middle of performing our huge production of Swan Lake. While rehearsing and performing Swan Lake our artists needed to keep prepared for their roles in The Nutcracker as well. All the children in the cast had to come back and prepare for the filming. Our orchestra had to maintain their work in two different massive Tchaikovsky scores, and hundreds of costumes had to be kept in tip top shape. Phenomenally, and with hard work, our amazing crew took down the immense Swan Lake sets and put up the huge Nutcracker ones in two days while simultaneously redoing all the lighting plots. The Swan Lake production had to be stored in huge trucks right outside the Capitol Theater where we filmed. The brilliant Kaleidoscope team moved in with all their film rigging and cameras, and for two short days we shot the actual full performance twice and spent a whole day working on close-ups and special angles. Then, like the wind, everything came down in another two days and Swan Lake was put back up to present five more performances of that great classic ballet love tragedy. Then our team spent much of the summer and fall working closely with Kaleidoscope to properly edit all the film and music together. The result – this stupendous recording of Willam Christensen’s historic ballet.
This has been such a complicated year for everyone, and performing arts groups are struggling to stay afloat during this difficult time. While we at Ballet West still have many challenges to surmount as we work to continue to bring you great art, we are grateful to have been given a gift of this elegant and highly produced filming. We are grateful to be given a platform to be able to share it with you, and we are grateful for each and every one of you – our beloved patrons. We hope that next year we can all come together in the theater to share the magic of Mr. C’s Nutcracker in person. There is nothing like a live theater experience, sharing the energy of over fifty musicians playing live, with nearly one hundred adult and child performers using the language of classical ballet to tell stories and create beauty. Until we can gather as a community again, we hope you and your family enjoy gathering to watch this glorious presentation of Willam Christensen’s The Nutcracker. From all of us at Ballet West, we miss you, but know we will be together soon.
Blessings to each and every one of you for a wonderful holiday season.
Since 2007, Adam Sklute has expanded Ballet West’s outlook, repertoire, and visibility with exciting Company and world premieres, increased touring, heightened public exposure, and greater focus on the Ballet West Academy. He began his career with The Joffrey Ballet, rising through the ranks from dancer to Associate Director. His stewardship of Ballet West has been marked by both financial growth and elevated artistry, and was the subject of The CW Network’s docu-drama, Breaking Pointe, which aired for two seasons. From September 2016 to October 2017, Sklute took on the dual position of CEO and Artistic Director overseeing both administrative and artistic operations of Ballet West. An internationally sought after teacher and adjudicator, Sklute has received numerous awards, including Utah’s Enlightened 50 (2014), The Bronze Minuteman Award for Outstanding Service to Utah and The Nation (2015), and most recently Utah Diversity Connection’s Business Award for outstanding commitment to diversity initiatives.