Magic on stage

Boulder Ballet launches its sparkling Nutcracker |

Boulder Ballet’s Nutcracker is a holiday tradition that draws patrons of every age. An extensive theatrical production, the show combines ballet with  flight, comedy and many surprises – all set to the sounds of Tchaikovsky, performed live by  the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra.

The show is a tremendous annual undertaking:  200 costumes. Oodles of props. Eight company dancers. Nine principle roles. Seven demi-solos. And 100 + student dancers – some as young as eight years old.

Artistic director Ana Claire pays special attention to the new dancers, ensuring all know their parts flawlessly (the best cure for nerves).

“The young dancers who are performing for the first time are so precious,” she says. “They are the most exciting to work with because they are so excited and full of awe.”

Ms. Claire knows this kind of wonder leads to good things. In addition to loads of local and national awards for her school, she has seen many of her dancers graduate to some of the world’s foremost dance companies.

Come and watch the dancers’ many talents unfold before your eyes. You can see the Nutcracker in Boulder over Thanksgiving weekend at Macky Auditorium, or the following weekend in Longmont, accompanied by the Longmont Symphony. For tickets and information, simply go to

But before you go, let us introduce you to five young Nutcracker dancers:

Annie Koval (2)ANNIE KOVAL
Dancing as a maid and a member of the Arabian court
Annie is a sophomore at Boulder High School who has studied ballet for seven years. She is dancing in her sixth Nutcracker this year. Annie is a volunteer at the Boulder Humane Society on Tuesdays, the only day of the week she isn’t practicing ballet. She spent a good portion of last summer studying at Ballet Chicago’s summer intensive. She draws inspiration from her dance teacher Kate Wagner, explaining: “She’s a very good dancer and knows how to manage everything on her plate.” Annie’s favorite thing about participating in the show is the friendship and camaraderie of the dancers.

Dancing as a party boy, rat, Chinese dancer and a man in white in the Waltz of the Flower
As one of 11 males dancing in the Nutcracker this year – eight students and three company dancers – Evan holds many roles, which taken together require many hours of preparation. Right now that means eight hours every weekend plus regular dance classes during the week. A junior at Boulder High School, Evan admires the ground-breaking work of the late great Bob Fosse. He has studied ballet for nearly 10 years and dances his eighth Nutcracker this season. His favorite part is the excitement of entering Macky Auditorium Concert Hall for the company’s dress rehearsal. Evan thinks the audience would be surprised to know that ballet is nowhere near as easy as it looks. “The company dancers are able to make it look effortless. But they have been training all their lives.”

Dancing as an angel, Ms. Muffet and also as an understudy for frost in the snow scene
Mia is happiest when she’s performing, and this young dancer and actor has already logged many hours on stage. A choreographer as well as lead actor in musicals for many summers running, Mia has studied ballet for eight years. She dances in her fifth Nutcracker this season. An eighth grade student at Centennial Middle School, Mia balances academics and ballet by bringing homework along to rehearsals (tending to it during downtime). Mia admires the many talents of her sister Ellie. She thinks Nutcracker audiences would be surprised to know that preparation for the November show begins in August.

Dancing as a party girl
Camille brings a deep appreciation for the art and history of ballet to her work as a dancer. She has studied the form for 12 years and dances her seventh Nutcracker this season. Camille also invested many weeks last summer at Ballet Chicago’s summer intensive, and enjoyed learning dance theories developed by George Balanchine. “His choreography is protected in a trust and only certain organizations are allowed to teach it. Getting to study some of his perfect and pristine techniques was a big opportunity.” Camille also admires the work of American Ballet Theater ballerina Gillian Murphy, whom she has seen perform live. A sophomore at Boulder High School, Camille’s favorite part of the Nutcracker experience is spending time with other dancers and of course, performing.

Dancing as a party girl and lady in white in the second act
Ellie has her eye on the big picture in big productions like Nutcracker, so her favorite part is witnessing the behind-the-scenes strategies that bring the whole show together. A director, choreographer, actor and dancer, Ellie has staged 11 full fledged musicals with her all-student creative group that meets every summer. She has studied ballet as a student of Boulder Ballet for seven years. This is her sixth Nutcracker. “All of the dancers are my best friends,” she says. “Working together makes us very close.”

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