Toy soldier Paris Harman, 15, watches rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker” at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The annual performance opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 22.
Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Braeden Barnes, center, performs in the party scene during rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker” at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The annual performance opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 22.
Toy solder Sydney Carrigan, 12, and mouse Jahisha Williams, 16, wait backstage during rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker” at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The annual performance opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 22.
Toy soldier Oslaniel Castillo, 12, adjusts his hat backstage during rehearsal for Nevada Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker” at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. The annual performance opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 22.
Preparations for Nevada Ballet Theater’s upcoming production of “The Nutcracker” at Smith Center began early — a whole year early, in fact.
“This has been in the works since closing night last year,” says NBT Artistic Director James Canfield. “ ‘Nutcracker’ never stops for a ballet organization. It really can’t.”
From planning to redesigns to marketing to fundraising, the elaborate holiday production is a daunting undertaking for any dance company, a linchpin production crucial for meeting annual budgets and introducing audiences to ballet through a beloved and ubiquitous fairytale. But for the ‘Nutcracker’s’ second year at Smith Center — which opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 22 — Canfield is seeking to raise the bar.
“The challenge in your first year is (that) it’s on paper for a very long time, and your imagination starts to go, and all of a sudden it’s that day where it’s in front of you. You learn at that point where what worked and what didn’t work,” he says of last year’s $2 million spectacular. “For me, I think the magic has been tightened, the magic being when all the elements — the costumes, the sets, the choreography, the music — come together and work in harmony.”
This year’s rendition will once again take on what Canfield describes as a “Dr. Seuss meets Tim Burton” feel complete with a set custom-designed for the Reynolds Hall stage and elements including a life-size, four-story Victorian dollhouse, a 30-foot Christmas tree and an airborne rocking horse — not to mention a live orchestra to provide Tchaikovsky’s famous soundtrack. The revamped version, however, evens out some of last year’s overwhelming spectacle in favor of creating a more immersive performance that includes new lighting design, 80 percent new choreography, an expanded cast of 170 and a renewed spotlight on NBT’s child performers.
“The story for me, when you break it down, is a fairytale (that’s) a statement about a young girl and her first step into womanhood, sort of saying goodbye to dolls and on to a whole new threshold in her life,” Canfield explains about his vision.
He says the challenge of reinterpreting the Christmas classic — this being his fifth time doing so — also is one of its charms.
“Every person that dares venture into choreographing takes artistic license. The last one I choreographed was based on imperial Russia, but I’d never done one that was true to the elements that E.T.A. Hoffmann had in his story. Not many interpretations do. I married a lot of the elements from the original, yet I wanted to do something that kids are still enthralled by and holds an element of surprise,” he says.
Canfield credits the elevated scope of the production to NBT’s debut as Smith Center’s resident ballet company in 2012, which he says has been vital for enhancing the quality of instruction and performances for NBT, as well as for facilitating fundraising for the nonprofit year-round.
“Both the Philharmonic and the Ballet have really been positioned in a new way because now there is a place, that is our home as a company, that says, ‘We have the arts here.’ In the past, people really didn’t know about it,” Canfield says.
Over the past two years, NBT has seen increased longevity in sponsorships and ticket sales, hitting a record performance high of 12,000 attendees for last year’s “Nutcracker” — a figure as crucial as it is laudable, as the production cost NBT two-thirds of its annual budget.
“Do you build a ‘Nutcracker’ every year? No. This is something that’s an investment for 10 years,” Canfield says. “It really is a community effort, and that’s been the biggest asset. It’s allowed the production to stay local, and to take this holiday classic and reimagine it — it’s important that you can come and see it for the first time again.”
Smith Center for the Performing Arts The Smith Center for the Performing Arts offers a blend of performances by resident companies and touring attractions. The 5-acre cultural campus features three performance spaces, which includes a main performance area with more than 2,000 seats. This downtown cultural center of Las Vegas looks to educate, entertain and excite community members.
To provide and preserve a high-quality performing arts center that is embraced by the community and recognized as a vital force by supporting artistic excellence, education and inspiration for all.
To entertain, educate, enrich and inspire the southern Nevada community.
Thanks to the generous support of our dedicated founders, members, donors and community partners, The Smith Center continues to provide a wide variety of services for Southern Nevada residents, including access to world-class performances, inspirational Education and Outreach programs for students and teachers, and a unique space to host events, meetings and special occasions. Celebrating our fifth season, we depend upon public support to fulfill our mission and serve as the Heart of the Arts® for many years to come.
With ticket sales covering just 75 percent of our operating budget for each season, the remaining 25 percent comes from the community we serve. Philanthropic support at all levels helps provide programming that entertains, educates, enriches and inspires. By giving to The Smith Center, you play a vital role in providing an important resource for our community.
There are many opportunities to volunteer and play a direct role with your community’s performing arts complex. Volunteers engage with staff and patrons to enhance experiences at The Smith Center, and can serve in various capacities including tour guide/docent, usher, security team member or community ambassador. As important members of The Smith Center team, volunteers help us remain financially sustainable and provide numerous services for the community. Please show your support for The Smith Center’s mission by gifting your time and unique skills.
Members’ annual support provides crucial resources for The Smith Center’s artistic programming, education opportunities and cultural enrichment each year. There are a variety of giving options and levels, and Members receive exclusive benefits and behind-the-scenes opportunities based on their level of support. To learn more, please visit www.thesmithcenter.com/support-us/members.
The Encore Society recognizes those generous donors who have included The Smith Center as a part of their estate plan. Corporate Sponsorship is available to companies to underwrite all, or part, of a program, performance or event.
Fanfare! is The Smith Center’s young progressional networking organization, open to anyone with an interest in the performing arts who is between the ages of 21-40. And our Show Dedication allows for the celebration of an individual or special occasion with unique recognition opportunities during a specific performance.
The Smith Center provides world-class performing arts and outreach and education throughout the Southern Nevada region.
The organization originally formed in 1996 as the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Myron G. Martin President and CEO Donald D. Snyder Chairman Dr. Keith Boman Vice Chairman Mark Tratos Secretary Michael Yackira Treasurer David Dunn Alan M. Feldman Richard Haddrill Fred Hipwell Nancy Houssels Todd-Avery Lenahan Scott MacTaggart Jerry Nadal John Nelson Richard Plaster Rory Reid Kim Sinatra Roger P. Thomas
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