Nutcracker Celebrates 50 Years

Nutcracker Celebrates 50 Years

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Carole Mikita ReportingThis season Ballet West marks a milestone with its most popular production. The company is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of "The Nutcracker".

50 years ago no one imagined the international popularity this ballet would have. Ballet West's founder, Willam Christensen, choreographed the first 'Nutcracker' in 1944 for The San Francisco Ballet, then brought it here for a premiere in 1955.

The timeless music of Tchaikovsky coupled with choreography from Utahn, Willam Christensen, "The Nutcracker" remains the most-produced of all ballets.

Christensen is still teaching at age 90. His dancers called him the loving taskmaster who put his company on the map.

Willam Christensen, Oct. 1998: "But I liked it that we worked our way, right up to the tip top..."

Members of that first 'Nutcracker' cast had no idea they were creating a production that would soon be sought after. Nancy Gold McFall performed 'Clara' for six years.

Nancy Gold McFall, 1st 'Clara' 1955: " I relive it, I relive it every single time. And I still get emotional, 'cause it's my ballet (cries and laughs), sorry."

Bruce Caldwell went on to become a Ballet West Principle Dancer; it all started with the new role Mr. Christensen created just for him, the nephew.

Bruce Caldwell, Ballet West, Ballet Master: "It's one of those moments in life when you just go, 'This is wonderful. This is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life.' And sure enough, I have."

50 years later, it continues. Willam Christensen called it magical and said as long as there are children and Santa Claus... there will also be "The Nutcracker"...

Willam Christensen called it magical and said as long as there are children and Santa Claus, there will also be "The Nutcracker".

"The Nutcracker" opens tomorrow at the Capitol Theatre and runs through Dec. 31st. Tickets are still available.

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