Spotlight on the Arts
5:37 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Sara Mearns Dances "The Nutcracker"

Sara Mearns in George Balanchine's "Cortege Hongrois."
Sara Mearns in George Balanchine's "Cortege Hongrois."
Credit Paul Kolnik

Like so many holiday traditions, "The Nutcracker" is upon us once again. With numerous Connecticut productions of the classic fairy tale ballet, the 12th annual production by the Eastern Connecticut Ballet is a stand-out for a number of worthy reasons.

Performed in downtown New London at the historic Garde Arts Center -- a treat in itself if you’ve never been -- it’s one of the only local versions where Tchaikovsky isn’t piped into the house. Instead, it’s played live by an accomplished 35-piece orchestra, courtesy of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra.

According to Lise Reardon, ECB’s Executive Director, the partnership between the Symphony and ECB has helped to make "The Nutcracker" a transformational experience. “The energy from having that live music-- it just carries the dancers along,” Reardon said. “It adds such excitement, and such energy, not just for the audience, but for the symphony members themselves.”

The real buzz comes from Connecticut dance enthusiasts in reaction to this year’s guest soloists: the world-renowned New York City Ballet principals, Sara Mearns and Amar Ramasar.

Mearns, who attended the School of American Ballet, has danced numerous principal roles for NYC Ballet, and was just 19 when she was chosen as the lead in Peter Martin’s memorable "Swan Lake." Ramasar also began his studies at the School of American Ballet, and has studied at the American Ballet Theatre Summer Program and The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet. As principal dancers, Ramasar and Mearns have teamed previously, including on "Swan Lake."

ECB Artistic Director Gloria Govrin is excited to have both principals working closely with the ECB students and its developing dance professionals. As for her reaction to having Mearns team with her predominantly female company, she said, “My kids are out of their minds that Sara Mearns is coming here. So I’m thrilled, because she is the kind of dancer I love. She is passionate. She’s a no-holds-bar dancer. She lays everything out on the stage. I think that it’s inspiring to the students, and I think the audience is going to love her.”

If you plan to attend:

Eastern Connecticut Ballet's "The Nutcracker" at Garde Arts Center, 325 State Street, New London, runs December 14 at 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm, and December 15 at 1:30 pm. Tickets: (860) 444-7373 or gardearts.org. Discounts for military, seniors, and groups.