Ballet Tucson brings 'Land of the Sweets' to Sonoran Desert with holiday 'Nutcracker'

Ballet Tucson is preparing for one of the most anticipated productions of the season: “The Nutcracker.” The holiday favorite will run Dec. 21-Dec. 23 at the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall.

“‘The Nutcracker’ is our most elaborate production of the season,” said Ballet Tucson artistic director Margaret Mullin. “It’s almost like the moment we are done with ‘The Nutcracker,’ we begin to think about the next ‘Nutcracker.'”

The classic ballet has become a production associated with the holidays, especially Christmas. It tells the story of a young girl named Clara and her adventure to the dreamscape that is the Land of the Sweets. 

Although the ballet was not successful when it premiered, it is now a beloved story performed by countless dance companies around the world. Mullin said the children who are part of the cast have already began their rehearsals while the company members will begin preparing for the show in December.

“I feel like the magic is already beginning,” Mullin said. “Especially as the children are rehearsing and learning their parts and we also have company members preparing for the fall concert happening this week, and they get to peek in and see them dance. I also think that when we get to see the grand pas de deux – I think that’s when we’ll start to fel like ‘Oh my God, it’s happening.'”

There are many recognizable parts to “The Nutcracker” such as the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Candy Canes – also known as the Russian Dancers – as well as Arabian Coffee. For Mullin, her favorite part and the one she’s looking forward for people to see is the Snow Scene.

“It is one of the most underrated parts. I think most people think of the Land of the Sweets,” Mullin said. “But it’s this beautiful moonlit scene with snow and so many dancers on the stage and we demand so much precision from them.”

Mullin said she is also looking forward to the continued partnership between Ballet Tucson and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, which will perform during the production.

“It is so great to work with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra,” Mullin said. “They understand what the dancers need from the music.”

Mullin said there will be an event on Sunday, Dec. 3, called The Sugar Plum tea where families can participate in high tea. There will also be holiday gifts and a silent auction.

“There will be dancers there in costume and people can take pictures with them as well as watch parts from ‘The Nutcracker’,” Mullin said.

The Sugar Plum Tea will take place at Tucson Marriott University Park. More information can be found in the Ballet Tucson website. 

The performances will run from Thursday, Dec. 21 to Saturday, Dec. 23 at the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall. Ticket prices vary with seating. With other ballet companies touring to Tucson for the season, Mullin hopes people feel encouraged to support Tucson’s local ballet company.

“All local organizations rely on local patrons and we can’t do what we do without our patrons. We love when people make us part of their holiday traditions and we appreciate the investment of their time and money. I think ‘Nutcracker’ tickets are a great gift,” Mullin said. “We are local but we are producing a world-class show.”