Celebrate the holidays with Ballet Arizona's 'The Nutcracker'

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- It's a holiday tradition here in the Valley: celebrating the season with a performance of Ballet Arizona's "The Nutcracker."

Ballet Arizona is proud to announce its 29th year of The Nutcracker performances, choreographed by renowned Artistic Director Ib Andersen. The Nutcracker will run from December 12- 28 for a total of 20 performances, with afternoon and evening shows at Symphony Hall in Downtown Phoenix.

The beloved ballet tells the story of a little girl named Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve. She encounters the frightful King Rat before embarking on a wondrous journey through the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets.

Young and old alike will experience the many special effects, including the Christmas tree which "grows" to 40 feet, 200 pounds of "snow" falling during the snow scene, and the firing of cannons onstage.

45 minutes before each performance of The Nutcracker, audiences are invited to the Symphony Hall lobby for pre-show events including storytelling and photos with the Sugar Plum Fairy beneath Ballet Arizona's 20-foot Christmas tree, hung with decorated toe shoes. Hot cocoa and cookies are available for purchase.

Here are some interesting facts from this season's The Nutcracker performances:

-There are 260 costumes in The Nutcracker, requiring more than 6,500 yards of fabric. A tutu alone takes 12 yards of material and 60 hours to produce.

-More than 100,000 Austrian Swarovski crystals make the spectacular Snow Scene sparkle.

-Nutcracker scenic elements including sets, lights, costumes and special effects require five tractor trailers and two 24-foot trucks bring sets, lights, and special effects to Symphony Hall.

-The Mouse King is more than 9 feet tall with his crown.

-During the run of The Nutcracker Ballet Arizona female dancers will use more than 300 pairs of pointe shoes. Pointe shoes are custom made and cost more than $100 a pair. Most pairs of shoes last one performance.

-Costume department personnel will wash about 125 loads of laundry during the run of The Nutcracker.

-The production uses more than 100 set pieces.
Ticket prices for The Nutcracker start at $15, discounts offered for seniors, students, military and groups. Tickets may be purchased by calling 602-381-1096 or by visiting www.balletaz.org