‘Peanutcracker’ specially made for younger attention spans | NevadaAppeal.com

‘Peanutcracker’ specially made for younger attention spans

Karen Woodmansee
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

It is a Christmas tradition in many communities and many homes; Mom or Dad takes the little ones to see “The Nutcracker.”

Often it is a child’s first experience with ballet, and many are enthralled. However, the younger a child is, the more likely they are to sleep or fidget through the Sugar Plum Fairy’s appearances.

Sierra Nevada Ballet artistic director Rosine Bene has solved the problem of little ones tiring out before the end of “The Nutcracker” by creating “The Peanutcracker ” The Story in a Nutshell.”

“The Peanutcracker” is based on the Peter Tchaikovsky original “Nutcracker,” but is a shorter, 45-minute narrated version.

“It is designed for families with younger children to introduce them to the wonderful world of ballet,” Bene said.

She wrote and choreographed this traditional holiday show that will be performed at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Carson City Community Center; at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Piper’s Opera House in Virginia City; and at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno.

The Carson City shows are supported by the Carson City Redevelopment Authority and the Brewery Arts Center. The Virginia City and Reno events offer reduced rates to organized school groups.

This year’s performances will feature the Ballet’s professional dancers, apprentices, and trainees, in addition to dance students from schools in the local community.

“Peanutcracker” features Sierra Nevada Ballet stars Larissa Cassera, Alexander Biber and Ramona Cachinero.

After 25 years of performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy professionally, Bene came to discover through speaking with young fans that “The Nutcracker” was often children’s first introduction to ballet and often very young children found the full two-hour ballet too long and difficult to follow.

She produced her first mini version of “The Nutcracker” with narration in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1993. The short ballet with its growing Christmas tree and animated storytelling proved to be very popular. Bene, then artistic director of Perspectives Dance Theater and The Reno Ballet, continued to present it to audiences in the Bay Area every year through December 2000, when she moved to Nevada permanently and founded Sierra Nevada Ballet.

The ballet also has a “Sponsor a Child” program which, thanks to many sponsors, allows the company to invite thousands of “at risk” children to attend performances at the Pioneer Center for free and over 3,000 to attend at the reduced rate of $5.

Individuals or businesses who are interested in helping to sponsor free tickets should contact Sierra Nevada Ballet at 775-783-3223.

– Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-7351.