San José Dance Theatre is honored to feature Chisako Oga and James Cunningham, courtesy of the Cincinnati Ballet, in the principal roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier at the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose for the weekend of December 8, 9, & 10. These artists are leading the cast of the 52nd annual Nutcracker production, the longest running Nutcracker in San Jose’s history.
Ms. Oga is dancing the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, a role which was her favorite as a child, and one she always dreamed of dancing. Mr. Cunningham will play the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy Cavalier but his favorite role in the Nutcracker has always been the Snow King. He loves the music of the snow scene and will be sure to enjoy the Cambrian Symphony and live vocals that accompany San José Dance Theatre’s own snow scene.
Ms. Oga began her ballet training at the age of 10, and quickly found it to be her passion. “I decided when I was 11 that I wanted to pursue it as a career.” Ms. Oga left home at the age of 15 to train on scholarship with the San Francisco Ballet School.
Mr. Cunningham began dancing at the age of 11, and wasn’t certain he would pursue dancing as a career until he finished his first year at the University of Cincinnati where he earned a BFA in ballet. “Classical ballet is beautiful, saturated in discipline, and considered by many the ultimate form
of dance. I was completely enthralled by this in my youth, and even so, wish that I had had the opportunity to let other forms of dance influence my training. Professional dancers today have to do it all, classical as well as many contemporary styles.
Ms. Oga and Mr. Cunningham cherish the opportunity to bring The Nutcracker to new audiences, and especially to the children who will see it for the first time. “I hope seeing the Nutcracker sparks an interest in all kinds of art,” says Mr.Cunningham. “Whether they decide to move their bodies and have the euphoria of dance for themselves, or find a renewed appreciation for the musical arts, let this Nutcracker be the gateway spreading art to the next generation.” Ms. Oga recalls, “My first experience [of ballet] was the Nutcracker as well! I loved the special occasion to go to the theater with my family dressed up and I remember how in awe I was seeing such a beautiful and magical production. I begged my parents to take me again. I hope that every child would take home joy and happiness seeing our performance, just like I did!”
When not dancing, both artists enjoy cooking and baking. Mr. Cunningham enjoys “playing Iron Chef”, while Ms. Oga prefers baking, especially if it is cookies! “It doesn’t necessarily help with my dancing, but I would always eat something sweet in the middle of a long day of rehearsals and before a show.” Ms. Oga will be tempted by the array of home and professionally baked cookies that will be offered to the Candy Kingdom guests after matinee performances, and before our evening shows. Both performers will make an appearance during Candy Kingdom to pose for photographs with guests.
The Nutcracker is an enchanting ballet in which young Clara Stahlbaum’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical, Candy Kingdom.
Tickets for the performance range in price from $38-$68 and may be purchased online at sjnutcracker.com. Candy Kingdom tickets can be purchased for an additional $10. With San José Dance Theatre’s commitment to making the arts more accessible to all in the community, half price tickets are available for both Friday night performances and group pricing is available for all other performances. Tickets are also available through the City National Box Office, 135 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95113 or by phone at (408) 792-4111, Monday-Friday 10am-5pm.
About San José Dance Theatre
For more than 60 years, San José Dance Theatre has trained beginning through advanced dancers for a lifetime of participation in and appreciation of the art of classical ballet. Originally founded in 1954 as Paul E. Curtis Jr.’s Los Gatos Academy of Dance and West Valley Foundation, San José Dance Theatre is the resident ballet company of the Center for the Performing Arts in downtown San Jose and was voted Best Dance Company in Silicon Valley by the Metro. San José Dance Theatre’s vision is to inspire dancers of all ages in the exploration of the art of dance, to foster growth through high-level training and mentoring experiences by professional dancers and instructors, and to promote the art of dance through creative public awareness campaigns.