Preview: The Nutcracker at The Sacramento Ballet

Isabella Velasquez, Mitchelle Katcher and Richard Smith rehearse. Do they look nervous to you?

Isabella Velasquez, Mitchelle Katcher and Richard Smith rehearse. Do they look nervous to you?

Photo courtesy of David DeSilva

Showtimes: Fri 12/14, 7pm; Sat 12/15, 2pm & 7pm; Sun 12/16, 2pm; Thu 12/20, 7pm; Fri 2pm & 7pm, Sat 2pm & 7pm, Sun 2pm & 7pm. Through 12/23; $25-$100; Sacramento Ballet at Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., (916) 808-5181;

The spirit of Christmas has inhabited the Sacramento Ballet—not a giddy spirit, but the anxious kind, where all involved look forward but remain aware of all it will take to pull it off. This feeling comes on the heels of a creative shakeup, as the longtime husband-wife director team of Carinne Binda and Ron Cunningham were replaced at the end of 2018 season.

This year, new artistic director Amy Seiwert has created an updated version of The Nutcracker, based, as most are, upon the original choreography of Marius Petipa and set to music by Tchaikovsky. Seiwert only recently finished work on it, leaving her dancers less than two weeks to master it all before the Dec. 14 opening night. No worries, she said.

In Seiwert’s reimagining, the main character is not Claire, as in some prior versions, but Marie, the lead from the original tale. She’s also a bit older—"about 15 instead of 11,” Seiwert says, “opening possibilities of a young woman exploring her sense of self and self-empowerment.”

The Sugar Plum Fairy, the giant Christmas tree, the bratty brother, the “party children” and the battle between mice and toy soldiers all will be there. So, too, will be the adventurous travel, extravagant, exotic costumes and special effects.

It’s not cheap, and like parents budgeting for a special treat, Sac Ballet faces the looming question, “How do we pay for this thing?”

Seiwert, executive director Anthony Krutzkamp and development director Ron Fredman have that in hand. “Ticket sales are strong, goals are being met and we’re looking forward,” Krutzkamp said.

Everything is beautiful at the ballet.