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Gerald Carpenter: Live Orchestra to Accompany State Street Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’

A State Street Ballet dancer defies gravity in The Nutcracker. (David Bazemore photo)

The State Street Ballet's sparkling production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker — based on a story by E. T.A. Hoffmann, and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov — will hit the boards this weekend  at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Granada Theatre, 1214 State St.

The show will feature opulent sets and the State Street Ballet's entire roster of professional dancers, including Samantha Bell, Ryan Camou, Anna Carnes, Ben-Oni Cortes, Bonnie Crotzer, Sergei Domrachev,  Leila Drake, Angela Guerena, Meredith Harrill, Lilit Hogtanian, Kate Kadow, Deise Mendonça, Armand Moyano, John Christopher Piel, Parsifal Pittendorfer, Dylan Santos, Samantha Schilke, Cecily Stewart and Jack Stewart — as well as students of Gustafson Dance.

In addition to the above-mentioned allurements, State Street Ballet has, for the second year in a row, elected to have Tchaikovsky's sumptuously gorgeous score performed by a live symphony orchestra. Brian Asher Alhadeff will conduct the Opera San Luis Obispo Orchestra, and the occasion promises magic.

It used to be said, mainly by people who played instruments in symphony orchestras, that listening to music on a record was like being kissed over the telephone. Aside from the fact that this snobbish analogy doesn't really work, however cleverly phrased, the implicit put down of people who became music lovers through recordings rather than live performances is somewhat offensive.

Speaking as one who was raised (or raised himself) on vinyl — much of it checked out from the public library — and has since been able to hear hundreds of works performed by live orchestras, I can vouch for the authenticity of the experiences I had from recorded music.

Still, listening to recordings in one's own home is a far cry from sitting in a concert hall listening to canned music backing a ballet, and I can't thank the State Street Ballet enough for restoring the balance to the live, real time performance of The Nutcracker.

Tickets to The Nutcracker are available from the Granada Theatre box office by calling 805.899.2222, or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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