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The Magic of ‘The Nutcracker’ comes to El Paso


As part of their winter season and to commemorate their 10th anniversary, El Paso Ballet Theater brings the magic of “The Nutcracker” to El Paso.  

With more than 100 dancers on stage and the music of legendary Russian Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the production by the local ballet company will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, at the Magoffin Auditorium at UTEP.

Marta Katz, director of the El Paso Ballet Theater created the company in 2007 and with UTEP’s last production of “The Nutcracker” in 2006, Kratz felt the need to have a ballet company that could open doors to aspiring dancers that could continue to bring ballet shows to town.

“There’s a company that comes from out of town, it’s called a Moscow ballet, and they tour all through many different cities in the in the United States, but they come and they perform and public has an opportunity to go and see a “Nutcracker”, but it doesn’t leave much else in the community, because the dancers are not trained here,” Katz said.

With the goal of bringing a semi-professional ballet company to El Paso, in 2009 Katz put up the company’s first Nutcracker production.

At the time the company had already been open for two years, however starting the production in mid- October was a challenge for the whole company to be ready by December.

“We didn’t have a single costume, we didn’t have a single prop, there was a teacher in New Mexico that had just retired, and she was very kind to rent us all her Nutcracker costumes and we had a choreographer that came to help us too,” Katz said. “It was too huge of an undertaking, but when people get together and work towards a common goal it can be done.”

Ten years after, El Paso Ballet Theater continues to bring “The Nutcracker” and other shows during their spring season.

As a former ballet dancer, Katz know the importance of opening doors for dancers in the community, aside from the members of her company, every year the El Paso Ballet Theater opens auditions for dancers who seek to participate on the ballet with the company.

“The Nutcracker is one of those ballets where you can actually gather a lot of people from the community, even if they’re not young training dancers or professional dancers,” Katz said.

By creating a semi-professional dance company Katz has given many dancers the opportunity to grow in technique and as performers.

Valeria Chavez, 16, started dancing ballet at the age of three and has been part of “The Nutcracker” for ten years.

“The first time I danced in “The Nutcracker” I was a mouse and then each year I would get a different role that moved up with my level,” Chavez said.

Five years ago, Chavez had the opportunity to dance the lead role of Clara, a young girl who travels to magic lands to save her Nutcracker doll from the evil Mouse King.

“It was a really great opportunity to be Clara at such a young age because it shows that you’re talented and that you have the strength to dance with dancers of your level and from levels above you,” Chavez said.

According to Katz, bringing shows like “The Nutcracker” to El Paso is a great opportunity for the community to attend a live classical dance performance on a budget.

“We always get people that leave Nutcracker saying, ‘oh my goodness it was so beautiful’ and

I’m glad that we do it as a community so that families have an opportunity to come at reduced prices,” Katz said. “When you have to pay $75, and if you’re a family of four, you’re seeing $300 and not everybody can do it, but we have $20 tickets. It’s a great way they can compensatelike going to a movie and going to experience live theater.”

Chavez said this is a great opportunity for the community to not only read or watch a movie about “The Nutcracker” but to attend a live performance during the Christmas season.

“The Nutcracker” will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, with shows at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Magoffin Auditorium at UTEP.

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Claudia Flores, Editor-in-chief
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The Magic of ‘The Nutcracker’ comes to El Paso