The Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo and Barry Goyette--long the dance company’s go-to photographer--are certainly shaking things up this year. Not only is the dance company performing The Nutcracker to a live orchestra for the first time in its history (read all about that adventure on page 28), but this year they’ve also called upon Goyette to create a short documentary series on the making of the 2012 production.
In an opening scene, tiny dancers vie for the enviable position of Clara at the auditions, showing off not only their dancing chops but also their improvisational abilities—how would they react to receiving the Nutcracker for the first time? How about meeting the Rat King? And as the cast list is finalized, the tension in the room is palpable.
Dancers Jane Selna as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Ryan Lawrence as the Nutcracker rehearse their spectacular pas-de-deux in a scene juxtaposed with shots of Artistic Director Drew Silvaggio cruising around town like a mad man on his sweet Vespa.
Interviews with dancers and with Silvaggio provide insight into the laborious and often emotionally wrought process that is the annual staging of The Nutcracker. Though created for promotional purposes, in Goyette’s hands the mini-series functions on another level as well: as an insightful, engrossing and visually appealing glimpse into the world of professional dancers.
The stakes are heightened as Silvaggio and the show’s music director, Opera SLO’s Brian Asher Alhadeff, smooth over the many hurdles involved in incorporating live orchestral performance into a show the company has only ever done to recorded music.
“Episode 1: Clara, Meet Sugar Plum” and “Episode 2: Rehearsals” can be viewed on nutcrackerslo.com, a new website specifically tailored to the Civic Ballet’s Nutcracker. Stay tuned for a third episode to the series as the date of The Nutcracker—Dec. 8 and 9—draws near.