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State Street Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ Shares Coveted Role with Two Rising Stars

For any young girl with aspirations to be a professional ballet dancer, the role of Clara in The Nutcracker is an undeniable goal.

State Street Ballet’s Nutcracker on Saturday, Dec. 21 (2 and 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday, Dec. 22 (2 p.m.) at The Granada Theatre will showcase not one, but two such talented and ambitious young dancers when they each join the professional dancers of State Street Ballet onstage in alternate performances of the much-beloved role of the young girl, Clara, who receives a magical nutcracker for Christmas.

Drawn from the SSB Young Dancer Program, Sarah Block and Lola Crist are amazingly accomplished dancers at the tender age of 13. Both have been dancing since they were toddlers and have worked hard to develop their obvious talent.

This season’s production of The Nutcracker will be the second year the dancers and audience alike will be hearing Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s sparkling score played by the Opera San Luis Obispo Orchestra conducted by Brian Ashor Alhadeff, and in the second act, joined by a chorus of singers from Morro Bay High School. A Music Fund drive is taking donations to help cover the additional expense of a live orchestra.

A perennial favorite, this original production is choreographed by State Street founder and artistic director Rodney Gustafson, with ballet masters Gary McKenzie and Marina Fliagina, and also includes children from the Gustafson School.

About Sara Block and Lola Crist

Block is an eighth-grade student at La Colina Junior High and an Apprentice 2 in State Street Ballet’s Young Dancer Program. She has performed in several productions with Gustafson Dance and in the SSB Summer Intensive workshops in 2012 and 2013. She also participated in the Idyllwild Arts Summer Dance Program this summer and has danced with contemporary choreographers in the area, including Robin Bisio and Melissa Block.

Crist is also an Apprentice 2 in the Young Dancer Program. She is an eighth-grade student at Laurel Springs School. In addition to dancing with Gustafson Dance and SSB’s Young Dancer Program, she is a member of SSB’s Professional Track Program, a year-round program for highly-trained and talented young dancers. In 2012 and 2013, she attended the summer intensives and was invited to stay full-time at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet. Last spring, she danced the role of Peter in the SSB Young Dancer production of Peter and the Wolf at the Lobero Theatre.

Audiences can enjoy Block’s performance of Clara on either of the Saturday performances, Dec. 21 at 2 or 7:30 p.m., or see Crist as Clara at the Sunday, Dec. 22 matinee at 2 p.m.

For tickets, call the Granada Theatre box office at 805.899.2222, or order online by clicking here. Tickets start at $21. Patron tickets (center section) are $100. For group tickets (10 or more), call 805.319.1648.

State Street Ballet is a professional ballet company with a strong commitment to artistic and technical excellence and dedicated to producing original works that combine the discipline and timeless elegance of classical ballet with updated cutting-edge choreography, inspiring and reaching new audiences and training the next generation of dancers. State Street Ballet is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization.

— Marylove Thralls represents State Street Ballet.

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