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Effects dazzle Ballet of Foothills' 'Nutcracker'

December 04, 2004

JOYCE RUDOLPH

As Clara drops off to sleep in the Ballet of the Foothills' annual

holiday performance, a beautiful Christmas tree will grow large and

menacing just before The Nutcracker Prince goes to war with the Mouse

King.

The company's artistic director, Jill Sanzo of Burbank, has always

wanted to incor- porate the growing Christmas tree in her rendition

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of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." She will get her wish this weekend

when the performance returns to the Alex Theatre.

Many other ballet companies, like the Royal Ballet of London, use

this technique, she said.

"In that production, the whole set grows, which shows the

transition to the frightening dream sequence Clara is going to go

through as she goes into battle with the soldiers against the mice

army," she said. "She hits the Mouse King over the head to save her

beloved Nutcracker Prince."

But then, the atmosphere changes to bright and happy again, as

Clara and her prince fly to the Land of Snow and Land of the Sweets.

It's the fourth year the company is presenting the ballet at the

Alex. Consisting of dancers from Ballet Petit dance academy in La

Canada Flintridge, the company had been performing the holiday

special since 1997 at The Lanterman Auditorium. Ballet Petit has been

in La Canada Flintridge since 1956, but Sanzo has owned it since

1981.

Dancing in the show are more than 60 students of the academy

ranging from age 6 to 17, as well as the professional Russian

dancers, the Kalinin Dancers, whose five members execute the

exuberant kicks in the "Russian Dance."

The role of Clara is shared by two dancers, Amanda Borland of La

Canada Flintridge and Flannery Huntoon of Los Angeles.

"Amanda as Clara brings an ethereal or dainty quality to her,

while Flannery is a little more down to earth," Sanzo said. "They are

both very good and have potential for going on with their dancing."

Playing the Nutcracker Prince is Scott Boreham, also of La Canada

Flintridge.

While he is not a dancer, Sanzo said, he has done some acting and

brings that specialty to his role.

Also new this year, Sanzo said, is the chance to meet the

characters of the ballet at a tea party between the shows on Sunday.

"I hope the community will come and see it and enjoy it and want

to make it a family tradition year after year," she said.

Performances are at 7:30 tonight and 1 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets

range from $22 to $28, $20 to $26 for children 12 and younger. The

tea party will be at 2:45 p.m. on Sunday and tickets are $15. For

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