Traveling show

Sacramento Ballet takes The Nutcracker on the road

Amanda Peet totally blocks Stefan Calka’s photo op in <span style="">The Nutcracker</span>.

Amanda Peet totally blocks Stefan Calka’s photo op in The Nutcracker.

The Sacramento Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker has joined the ranks of migratory species. Most of us were too busy during Thanksgiving to notice when Sacramento Ballet artistic director Ron Cunningham packed up the entire Nutcracker production (with the exception of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra) and took the show to Fresno. Two huge trucks carried scenery, costumes and the enormous, colorful drops that form the background in each scene. There, the ballet joined forces with more than 100 area youngsters to present The Nutcracker at the William Saroyan Theatre on November 25 and 26.

Henceforth, the Sacramento Ballet plans to perform in Fresno twice a year, with The Nutcracker in late November and another production in the spring. The arrangement was worked out by the ballet and the Valley Performing Arts Council after the Fresno Ballet went belly up last year.

Sacramento Ballet has sent outreach ensembles to Fresno for nearly a decade, and more recently has taken smaller productions like Giselle, Carmina Burana and a George Balanchine program. However, this was the first time The Nutcracker—the company’s big enchilada, in terms of the number of dancers involved and the number of tickets sold—has made the journey. With 17 performances in Sacramento, The Nutcracker accounts for roughly half of the Sacramento Ballet’s audience over the yearlong season.

Cunningham said he’s thinking of Fresno as a sister city to Sacramento. And unlike some “two city” ballet companies, such as the ill-fated San Jose Cleveland Ballet, Cunningham thinks the arrangement between Sacramento and Fresno will last. “They’re both in the same state. It’s a drivable distance,” Cunningham said.

What about Modesto, where the Gallo Center for the Arts is under construction?

“Nothing’s impossible,” Cunningham hinted. Mounting a mid-November Nutcracker in Modesto would probably be too darned early, but other shows in other months might work out. In the meantime, it’s Nutcracker season in Sacramento.