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Ballet West's 'Nutcracker' a Utah Tradition

Ballet West's 'Nutcracker' a Utah Tradition

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Carole Mikita ReportingTickets to Ballet West's 'Nutcracker' production are on many families' Christmas lists. It remains the biggest business this company and many others do each year.

For 49 years now, children dancing with dolls and toy trumpets have kicked off the holiday season for thousands here in Utah and around the country. But this annual 'Nutcracker' is also key to the dance company's survival.

Ticket sales represent half of what Ballet West earns every year, and 25% of its total revenue, which also includes grants and donations.

Johann Jacobs, Exec. Dir. Ballet West: "We do 29 performances of it here in Salt Lake, we do several in Ogden, we often tour it up to Alaska. So it really is a key element of what Ballet West is, and what Ballet West does."

Ballet West's founder Willam Christensen choreographed America's first 'Nutcracker'. Ballet companies around the country, which also do 'Nutcracker' are concerned about a steady increase in other holiday shows, traveling 'blockbusters' like Disney on Ice. Ballet West balances that concern with a desire to simply see more people downtown.

Johann Jacobs: "A quality production, no matter whether it's yours or another organization, only can help to promote the art form. I see it as competition, but I don't see it as bad competition. I see it as an opportunity for us as well."

Much of its success is generational. Now nearly 10,000 Utahns have performed as children in the party scene over the years, which means the annual return of the 'Nutcracker' is a family reunion for both dancers and the community. Even KSL-TV's Nadine Wimmer performed!

Ballet West's 'Nutcracker' runs through Dec. 30th at the Capitol Theatre. There are still tickets available.

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