As the San Jose Dance Theatre approaches its monumental 58 th annual performance of “The Nutcracker,” the company’s board and artistic team have found inspiration in the vision of their founders, Paul Curtis & Shawn Stuart. With an incredible knack for storytelling and meticulous attention to detail, their influence on the ballet’s creation remains a guiding force even after all these years. Drawing from the original choreography of the first act, with minor updates to keep it fresh, the team has managed to uphold the essence of the timeless classic.
A Timeless Tradition and the Challenge of Staying Relevant
“The Nutcracker” has firmly established itself as a beloved holiday tradition across the United States, with many families incorporating it as a cherished part of their annual festivities. However, keeping this ballet fresh and exciting for audiences poses a challenge—how does one balance the essence of a classic while embracing the evolving changes in society? Addressing the issue of cultural sensitivity becomes paramount, especially in aspects of the second act, where certain portrayals have been perceived as
inaccurate and offensive.
Rethinking the Second Act with Respectful Innovation
Over the last few years, San Jose Dance Theatre has diligently worked on finding a solution. In a two-pronged approach, they first delved into their founder’s original vision and leaned into the theme of confections. This innovative solution breathes new life into the second act, where audiences are now treated to enchanting performances by “Chocolate,” “Tea,” and “Candied Flowers” dancers, replacing the potentially problematic “Chinese Tea” and “Arabian Coffee” divertissements.
Enhancing Audience Experience with Candy Kingdom VIP
Embracing the confection theme, the San Jose Dance Theatre elevates the interactive experience for the audience with the Candy Kingdom VIP segment. This segment allows guests to get up close and personal with their favorite confection dancers, indulge in delectable treats, and capture memorable moments with a photo opportunity.
Honoring Diversity and Respectful Representation
Recognizing the importance of cultural sensitivity, the San Jose Dance Theatre reached out to its diverse student body and the broader community for valuable input. By actively involving these families in the creative process, the company ensures that the choreography and costuming celebrate and honor the beautiful aspects of each culture. For instance, the incorporation of the Chinese Lion is a respectful representation of Chinese culture without perpetuating stereotypes or causing discomfort among
Anticipating the 60th Anniversary Extravaganza
As the momentous 60th anniversary of “The Nutcracker” approaches, audiences can expect a refreshed and culturally sensitive production that pays homage to its origins while embracing contemporary innovation. San Jose Dance Theatre’s commitment to preserving tradition while fostering inclusivity sets a shining example for other ballet companies striving to create a magical and respectful experience for all. Get ready to be captivated once again by the timeless wonder of “The Nutcracker” as it takes center
stage in this milestone celebration.