The Nutcracker Pirouettes to PBS as Colorado Ballet Reimagines Season

The Colorado Ballet's production of The Nutcracker is an annual tradition.
The Colorado Ballet's production of The Nutcracker is an annual tradition. Mike Watson
’Tis the season when Nutcracker mania normally sweeps the Front Range, as families of aspiring ballerinas pack theaters with friends and family eager to watch them play sugarplum fairies, hoping one day to watch them dance the part of Clara. It's usually a profitable time for dance companies and their academies, but during the pandemic, many of those are figuring out how to move forward without slaughtering the holiday spirit altogether.

On November 12, the Colorado Ballet announced that all of its main-stage performances at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House slated for the 2020-’21 season will be canceled or bumped back, a move that coincides with the Colorado Symphony's announcement that it has canceled the season's concerts at Boettcher Concert Hall through May.

The ballet company's season looked good. It had planned to reboot The Wizard of Oz and also stage productions of The Great Gatsby and Giselle; those potential blockbusters will all be rescheduled. 

Colorado Ballet will still perform The Nutcracker this year — but it will be streamed into patrons' homes by Rocky Mountain PBS from Thanksgiving to Christmas Day.

With the company facing financial obstacles galore, artistic director Gil Boggs is trying to keep an upbeat tone.

“In spite of the current situation that prevents us from gathering together to present and enjoy live main-stage productions, we remain committed to bringing world-class dance to our audiences,” he explains. “Right now we are reimagining the remainder of our current season. We are excited about the new possibilities our current circumstances present and the opportunity for our dancers to work on and perform different types of repertoire. We will do everything possible to enable our dancers to continue to share their artistry with our patrons.”

All that reimagining means the Colorado Ballet's dancers, who have been out of work for months, will finally be back in the studio, rehearsing for alternative-style performances scheduled for February, March and April, a mix of solo and two-person dances that will be streamed. If safety guidelines allow it, a few audience members will be allowed in to watch. 

"As a nonprofit performing arts organization, Colorado Ballet has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and the resulting inability to create and present large-scale productions during this unprecedented time," notes a Colorado Ballet announcement. "With the loss of all five productions scheduled for Colorado Ballet’s sixtieth-anniversary season in 2020-2021, the company will not receive any ticketing revenue from mainstage performances at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, which typically exceeds $5 million annually and accounts for nearly 56 percent of Colorado Ballet’s yearly operating budget."

For more information about how to donate to Colorado Ballet's Relief and Recovery Fund, go to the Colorado Ballet website.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris