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Listen: The History of The Nutcracker from Northern Utah

San Francisco Ballet
Willam Christensen, 1944

The Nutcracker and the Mouse, an 18th century German fairy tale, is a storied holiday tradition on stage.

For the eighth time, Ballet West dances at the Kennedy Center, debuting a whole makeover of sets and costumes for an east coast audience in Washington D.C.

Willam Christensen, the founder of Ballet West, was born and raised in Brigham City, Utah.  He was a crucial figure in the development of dance in the west, and, after starting San Francisco Ballet, helped launch one of the first collegiate ballet programs, at the University of Utah.

The dancer and choreographer is widely credited with bringing The Nutcracker to the United States, influenced in part by his own stage experience for presentation to an American audience.

Ballet West has kept the complete American version of the ballet, with music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, in its repertoire since 1955.  The troupe returns to Utah December 14 for a 15 day run of The Nutcracker at the historic Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City.

Here, Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute describes Christensen’s legacy and influence on the Salt Lake City company.

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