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December '99 Newsletter from San Francisco


December Preview

As expected, Christmas ballets rule supreme for the month of December, with "The Nutcracker" leading the pack. I suppose I shouldn’t complain as they entice out to the theaters families that would otherwise prefer to stay home in their warm cozy houses. However, I can safely predict that I will be tired of Tchaikovsky’s lush score come New Year’s Eve. Fortunately, there are enough alternatives out there to occupy dance fans who are determined to make the valiant attempt to avoid Clara, Drosselmeyer and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

- As far as Nutcrackers go, the grandest of them all in the SF Bay Area is of course San Francisco Ballet’s production with "original choreography by Lew Christensen and additional choreography by Willam Christensen and Helgi Tomasson" which I understand will be retired after this season. Performances run Dec 14-31 at the War Memorial Opera House. The other professional Nutcracker productions include those by Oakland Ballet, Dec 10-24 at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, and San Jose Cleveland Ballet, Dec 2-12 at the San Jose Performing Arts Center. Rounding off the Nutcracker scene are productions by Pacific Ballet Theater (Dec 3-5, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, MVCPA), Peninsula Youth Ballet (Dec 5, San Mateo Performing Arts Center), Stanford Ballet (Dec 3, Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University), Pacific Dance Theatre (Dec 3-4, McAteer High School in San Francisco), California Academy of Performing Arts (Dec 9-11, Rheem in Moraga), Western Ballet (Dec 10-12, MVCPA), Berkeley Ballet Theater (suite, Dec 10-19, Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley), Petaluma City Ballet (Dec 10-12, Person Theater at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park), Berkeley City Ballet (Dec 11-12, Berkeley Community Theater and Dec 18-19, Jackson Theater at Ohlone College in Fremont), Westlake School for the Performing Arts (Dec 11-12, Palace of Fine Arts), and City Ballet School with Bay Area Youth Ballet (selections, Dec 18-19, ODC Theater). I hope you paused at least a couple times to breathe.

- For those who prefer a little different Nutcracker, there are Danville Ballet’s "2000 Pointes of Light -- Magic of the Nutcracker," with seasonal and gospel music (Dec 17-18, Village Theater in Danville) and the contrasting San Francisco Gay/Lesbian Freedom Band’s "Dance Along Nutcracker" (Dec 4-5, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, YBC).

- And if you want a truly different Nutcracker, there is always the perennial favorite, "The Hard Nut," that wacky creation of the charmingly loopy Mark Morris. The music may be familiar but the choreography leaves you in no doubt that this is not your typical ballet even as it splits your sides with its raucous humor. Get your tickets early, as shows tend to sell out. Dec 11-19, Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley.

- Finally, to avoid Tchaikovsky altogether, you have several choices. You can take in Smuin Ballets/SF’s "The Christmas Ballet 1999" which was featured in the December issue of Dance Magazine. This is a ballet of two contrary acts; Act I, "The Classical Christmas," features Christmas-themed music by Bach, Mozart, etc. while Act II, "The Cool Christmas," is inspired by blues, country music and Cajun sounds. Dec 8-19, YBC. Or you can enjoy ODC/SF’s athletic and energetic "The Velveteen Rabbit," a delightful creation by my up-and-coming favorite choreographer, KT Nelson, with narration by actor-comedian Geoff Hoyle. Dec 1-11, YBC. And then there is the Someday @ Christmas program by Labayen Dance SF which includes three premieres. Dec 18-19, Labadanspace in San Francisco.

Once again, to view a full listing of all dance events in the SF Bay Area, go to Michael Phelan’s Baydance.

Azlan Ezaddin

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