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Sugar plum fairies and more bring classic story to life at Pioneer Center


The Nutcracker was brought to life at the Pioneer Performing Arts Center by a collection of local talent from A.V.A. Ballet Theatre and principal dancers from Ballet West, Kansas City Ballet and the Diablo Ballet. For three nights—Dec. 10, 11 and 12—the traditional story was told using classic costumes, vibrant sets and a little bit of humor all set to Tchaikovsky’s traditional score as performed by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Laura Jackson.

Visiting principal dancers take on lead roles, granting audience members a delightful experience with highly trained performers on stage. The remaining roles and ensemble parts are taken on by the A.V.A.’s very own dancers, including young children who bring a light-hearted wonder to the stage. 

The program from AVA Ballet’s Nutcracker. Image: Nora Tarte

The mice, specifically, provide humorous moments in between more serious dances, and the scene where small children emerge from underneath the skirt of the larger-than-life Mother Ginger earns its giggles from the crowd. 

Artistic director Alexander Van Alstyne is responsible for the choreography used in this annual rendition of The Nutcracker.

At the end of Friday night’s performance, dancers were met with a standing ovation. After the matinee shows on Saturday and Sunday, attendees were invited to a Sugar Plum Party where they could meet the characters, adding a little extra magic to the experience. 

After each performance, nutcrackers and other trinkets, including miniature nutcracker ornaments, were for sale offering the most appropriate souvenirs for guests.

Like most shows at the Pioneer Center this year, masks and proof of vaccination or a negative test were required to attend. Everyone is also required to wear a mask while inside of the theater. It’s recommended that ticket holders show up at least an hour before the scheduled performance as the shows do start promptly. This should give you time to visit the concessions stand where drinks, candy and other small snacks are available for purchase before the show and during intermission.

The Nutcracker wrapped up the A.V.A. Ballet’s 2021 calendar year, but 2022 performances are already scheduled. Their website, www.avaballet.com, includes dates for December 2022’s The Nutcracker performances as well as dates for three other shows: Beauty & The Beast, Vortex: The Ballet That Rocks! and Swan Lake.

Nora Tarte
Nora Tarte
Nora Heston Tarte is a long-time Reno resident living on the southside of town. In addition to food, her hobbies include wine, hiking, yoga and travel. She is also the managing editor of a regional, lifestyle publication and freelances for other publications most frequently in the travel space. Nora received her bachelor's in Journalism from California State University, Sacramento before graduating from University of Nebraska, Lincoln with a master’s in Professional Journalism. You can follow her travel adventures, and local exploits, on her Instagram account @wanderlust_n_wine.