Worried you’ll be bored by another basic ballet performance of the Nutcracker? If you are looking for an exciting way to kick off this holiday season, consider an evening enjoying Festival Ballet Albuquerque’s Nutcracker Ballet in the Land of Enchantment. Patricia Dickinson Wells has choreographed an intricate adaptation of this classic performance, incorporating the various flavors of New Mexican culture.

Rather than use the traditional setting of The Nutcracker, Festival Ballet Albuquerque has taken the timeless story and transported it to late nineteenth-century territorial New Mexico. You can expect to see vibrantly-garbed flamenco dancers, a storyteller doll, and an array of southwestern wildlife dance across the stage. Variations on the classic characters accompany this unique southwestern production. Snakes and piñon branches decorate the set, while dancers wear western-style Victorian costumes. Ashley Purcella ’19 gave insight into the dynamics of the piece. “It’s all New Mexican-themed, so a lot of the names have changed, like Clara is Maria, and Fritz is Fernando. We also changed the [traditional choreography], so what would normally be [a] Russian [dance] is now a Fandango. It has all the same music, but with a New Mexican twist,” Purcella said. Purcella plays a variety of roles in the production, including a doll, a snow-demi, a flower sub-demi, a shepherdess, an archangel, and a Spanish dancer.

This production has been a long-time commitment for performers. “We had auditions in August, and we have rehearsals on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays,” Purcella said. A tremendous amount  of work went into developing this piece for the many actors participating. Purcella said, “I don’t remember the exact number [of people in the play], but quite a few. A lot of age ranges, too. My little sister is in it, and she’s ten. There are even kids in it that are younger than her, maybe six. Then we go all the way up to adults for the party scene. I would probably say a good sixty people [are in the play] just dancer-wise.” Need a little more excitement? Nutcracker Ballet in the Land of Enchantment is eager to present a never-before-seen pyrotechnics act in a battle scene. “It’s like mini-fireworks on stage. We have the cannon, which is the biggest one. It’s not dangerous; actually it’s really fun. They’re loud, and quite pretty. They really add to [the show],” Purcella said, and also noted that the cast conducts special rehearsals to ensure that no one gets hurt.

If you’re seeking a night of entertainment, enhanced by the rich culture of New Mexican history and brought to life by Albuquerque’s best dancers, this play would certainly do the trick. Tickets are available online at the www.nhccnm.org, and the show plays in December 15, 16, and 17 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Ticket prices range from $14 to $47.


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