A still from last year's Westside Ballet performance of The Nutcracker

The classics never go out of style.

Westside Ballet’s 46th annual performance of The Nutcracker is proof positive of this, selling out for five years straight. The dance troupe returns to Santa Monica’s Broad Stage this holiday season, accompanied by The Santa Monica College Symphony Orchestra.

Martine Harley, Westside Ballet’s Artistic Director, says tradition – even when slightly updated – is what’s kept Westside’s version of The Nutcracker alive and entertaining for so many years.

“Traditions are passed down through the generations,” Harley said in a press release. “Whether it’s a recipe from your great grandmother or going to a special place on vacation each year, traditions that endure are the most coveted.”

Westside Ballet says audiences can expect to be “mesmerized by a colorful and elaborate presentation featuring world-class professional dancers performing alongside pre-professional and student performers.”

One such performer is 16-year-old, Switzerland-born Renee Spaltenstein, who just finished her first year at Westside and is already turning heads with her dancing ability.

Having trained in a Russian-style of ballet since the age of four, Spaltenstein moved to Santa Monica in 2014 and quickly acclimated to Westside’s Balanchine technique of ballet, which she said looks more happy and joyful than the Russian style she grew up with.

“The movements are bigger, you dance faster and in a more athletic way. For me as a dancer, it’s more interesting,” she said. “You need so much more momentum and muscles to express the movements and you’re able to play with the audience, form a special bond with them.”

Seeking a special bond with the audience is key to this performance, Spaltenstein said.

As long in the tooth as the Nutcracker may get, she says it’s the belief in one’s character that can make or break a performance.

Spaltenstein will be portraying the Sugar Plum Fairy, a renowned role in the Nutcracker, and one she takes deathly seriously.

“You must really dream and be in the role that you perform,” she said. “You have to believe you’re the Sugar Plum Fairy to make people feel like they’re in the story themselves. It’s why I love ballet; to tell stories through dancing.”

Westside Ballet’s The Nutcracker will be performed at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St. Dates and times are Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1– 2 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $45. For more information, visit www.westsideballet.com


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