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'The Snow Queen': It's not 'The Nutcracker'

December 18, 2009 |  9:38 am

Snow Poor Tchaikovsky.

It’s not the great Russian composer’s fault that his miraculous, sparkling and tuneful ballet score dating from 1892 percolates incessantly from shopping mall PA systems to lubricate December spending.

Nor can we blame dear departed Pyotr Ilyich for the myriad “Nutcracker” ballet productions that procreate with alarming fecundity each passing year. This season, The Times counts 21.

Holiday alternatives do exist for the imaginative ballet master. Why not stage ballet versions of “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “A Christmas Carol” or “Miracle on 34th Street”? One smart coach, Erin Holt of California Contemporary Ballet, who grew up dancing “The Nutcracker,” decided she had had enough. Holt developed a vehicle that provides all-things-Nutty: an innocuous family outing, exposure to classical ballet for kids and a big-tent approach to casting. Only, it’s not the “Nutcracker.” It’s “The Snow Queen.” And she’s been doing it for 12 years.

Adios Sugar Plum Fairy. Bienvenidos, er … Queeny. 

In sticking with an original and proprietary ballet, Holt and her Snow Queen Strategy scores high marks with local area arts funders and consultants. Click here to read my story about the community ballet production that opens tonight at Glendale Community College.  And click here for a photo gallery from Times photographer Francine Orr.

-- Debra Levine

Photo: Ryan Morrison in rehearsal. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times