This week’s Dance Flash doesn’t feature bunnies, although I highly recommend that you visit Saturday’s SF Vegan Bakesale, which benefits SaveABunny and the Food Empowerment Project. Hug a bunny and buy some baked goods! Instead, today, I’m going nuts for holiday dance. Ooga booga!
The macadamia nut of the holidays is “Nutcracker,” and San Francisco Ballet’s is a two-hour spectacle of bombs-away snow, spectacular theater magic, warm holiday cheer, top-notch ballet, and well-balanced story telling. It’s the creme de la creme, if you may. The opening sets the tale in early 20th century San Francisco, with a fitting homage to Painted Ladies and fog. Children romp, adults waltz, and toy dolls bounce high and spin off balance. Late in the night the tree grows, and Clara and the Nutcracker travel through the snow to the Land of the Sweets, here inspired by the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, where Clara’s presented with dance and entertainment from all over the globe.
Artistic Director Helgi Tommason has said, “I wanted a production that not only transported children, but also adults into a realm of the magical and the fantastical.” And that he’s done.
What: San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker”
When: Dec. 8-27, 2009
Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
Tickets: $18-$236; http://www.sfballet.org/performancestickets/nutcracker.asp or 415.865.2000 or in person at the SF Ballet Box Office
Other: Want to treat a potential mate to a date? How about “Nutcracker” Date Night? There are also internet specials for specific family performances (while supplies last) –Enjoy seats on the main Orchestra level for as little as $36 for the Dec. 8th and 9th evening performances. For more info, go to http://www.sfballet.org/performancestickets/nutcracker.asp.
Mark Morris may choreograph some of the most musical ballets for SF Ballet, but his own company presents Morris’ “The Hard Nut,” a hearty nut much like the pistachio, across the bay in Berkeley. Morris is a character in his own right; honest, bright, and brash, he was labeled a bad boy of modern dance in his early career, but since then, he’s matured into one of the country’s most astute dancemakers. Yet he still has a wild streak in him! Years back, I remember seeing him take a bow on stage wearing bright red socks beneath his ankle-skimming trousers, and before that, hearing rumors of a hot tub in or near to his office. I wonder if a hot tub would fit in mine…
This kooky, comic book take on the Nutcracker includes cross dressing, implied drug use, tree-protecting G.I. Joes (sans Channing Tatum, thank god), and dancers wildly chucking fake snow into the air. So if you want an acid trip without the side affects, this might be the nut you’ve been looking for. Unless you dropped one on the floor. Then it’s an entirely different nut.
What: Mark Morris Dance Group’s “The Hard Nut”
When: Dec. 11-20, 2009
Where: Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley
Tickets: $32/$48/$60; http://www.calperfs.berkeley.edu/ or 510.642.9988 or in person at the CalPerformances Ticket Office
Other: Special pricing for young audiences: Ages 16 and under save 50% on single-ticket prices for the Fri, Dec 11, and Thu & Fri, Dec 17 & 18 performances.
And lastly, this is early, but hey, it’s like a wasabi nut blend: a crazy idea that after a few bites, doesn’t seem so odd after all. The Dance-Along Nutcracker is back for two days, letting everyone who’s young at heart twirl and flutter about to Tchaikovsky’s familiar score. This nut is presented by The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Founded by Jon Sims in the late 70s, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is the first openly gay music organization ever. But if you haven’t gotten the picture yet, let me spell it out for you. This is no sit-in-a-seat-and-watch-two-hours-of-dance event. You’re encouraged to dress up (this year’s theme is the wild west–yeehaw!), dance about, and above all, have fun! Now throw on some chaps (and at least a matching thong, please), suit up the horse and buggy (er, Muni), and dance along, partner.
What: The Dance-Along Nutcracker
When: Dec. 12-13, 2009
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St, San Francisco
Tickets: $16 children & seniors/$25 adults/$50 gala tickets; http://www.dancealongnutcracker.org/tickets.php or 415.978.ARTS (2787)