Continuing to establish itself as a spirited and sophisticated -- if itinerant -- ballet company, Los Angeles Ballet opened its 2011-12 season over the weekend at the Alex Theatre in Glendale with a memorable cast for its distinctive, inspired “The Nutcracker.”
As helmed by artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, Los Angeles Ballet’s “Nutcracker” delivers an admirable depth and intelligence of design combined with a light-handed approach to the ballet’s traditional Christmas-party characterizations and plot line.
Catherine Kanner’s luscious Act 1 setting is 1912 Los Angeles, an interior drawing room so plush and timbered that even with its electric lights it still feels redolent of Tchaikovsky’s time.
Inhabiting this velvety parlor, the pale, winsome Clara (Mia Katz) and her incandescent Uncle Drosselmeyer (Nicolas de la Vega) make a poetic pair, and it’s easy to root for their partnership. Usually an aged, menacing creature, Drosselmeyer is drawn here as blessedly young and gregarious. De la Vega’s sweeping gestures and scampering feet swell to light the whole stage.