The return of a holiday favorite: Kids revel in auditions for ‘The Nutcracker’

·2 min read

The weather was blazing hot a week ago, but thoughts turned nevertheless to the Sugar Plum Fairy and other holiday delights as the Sacramento Ballet hosted its annual children’s tryout for “The Nutcracker.”

Dancers from ages 6 to 17 years old learned new choreography and danced at the Clara Studios in midtown to secure a spot in the December performances. The day started with 6 year olds hitting the floor and moved up a year for every new cohort, up to 17 years old.

Tiny ballet shoes waltzed, pliéd and pirouetted across the floor. It’s a scene Anthony Krutzcamp, executive director of the Sacramento Ballet, has witnessed many times before. Several of the ballet’s adult dancers started as kids in the program; this year, Krutzcamp said the group is letting those native Sacramentans take a lead role in the artistic vision for the centuries-old ballet.

“We’re actually bringing back the idea of it’s Sacramento’s Nutcracker, the idea that it’s something uniquely just us, which I’m pretty excited about,” Krutzcamp said.

The changes include bringing back the young character of Clara, who will be the string that runs throughout the show. That follows a shift in tone, as the story will revolve more around children and less around adults.

The youth tryouts were canceled last year, along with all shows, by the COVID-19 pandemic. But some things never change, like the butterflies in the stomachs of kids auditioning for a spot in “The Nutcracker.” Aria Leigh, a young tryout who wore a face mask that looks like a bear, said the tryout was tough.

“I felt nervous at first and then hot and then fun,” she said.

She hoped to earn a role as a mouse in this year’s production. Performances run from Dec. 11 to Dec. 23.

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