Claudia Anata Hubiak remembers the magic. The music filled the historic auditorium, and the costumes on the stage made the dancers look like a dream. Which was only fitting, of course, given the storyline of the famous “Nutcracker Ballet.”
Attending “The Nutcracker” was a holiday tradition when Hubiak was just a child growing up in Boulder, but she can still feel the memory today, now that Hubiak is the interim executive director of the Boulder Ballet.
“The Nutcracker” production has been a Boulder Ballet tradition for many years, too. In fact, this year marks the show’s 30th anniversary.
The dancers share the show with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra at the Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado campus.
This year’s shows are 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29 (the day after Thanksgiving); 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1.
Hubiak never performed in the show; she didn’t begin dancing until age 18, although her young background in gymnastics gave her an appreciation for the skill she watched.
“It was a treat,” Hubiak says. “You got to dress up and go out with your family and sit in this space — when you’re a kid, you don’t really think about the history of it but the space feels really special in that auditorium.”
The Boulder Ballet also offers an East Boulder County performance with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra the following weekend: 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Both shows are at the Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, 600 E. Mountain View Ave. in Longmont.
There are also several special Nutcracker-related events throughout the winter. “The Gentle Nutcracker” starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Vance Brand auditorium in Longmont. This show, with the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, is a sensory-friendly, shorter version designed for and welcoming to people with special needs and their families.
“This is really something that isn’t an opportunity that people have everywhere, for people who are differently abled to come to these productions and have a tour through what it means to attend a live performance,” Hubiak says. “It’s an opportunity to attend it in a way that’s healthy, healing and special for them. It’s a safe space to just experience live performance as you are.”
In addition, a “Nutcracker” book signing kicked off the season on Nov. 9 at Barnes and Noble in Boulder, followed by a book signing at the Boulder Bookstore on Pearl Street from 11 a.m. to noon Nov. 16.
Can’t get enough? The Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th St., is holding a Nutcracker Tea from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 15. This special event features tea and treats (tea sandwiches, scones and desserts) in the historic hotel’s stunning mezzanine.
The Boulder Ballet even has a “Nutcracker” podcast series.
When remembering the holidays of her childhood, Hubiak says the music of “The Nutcracker” seems to imprint itself into your mind.
“It sinks in forever. You listen to it when you go home, and it brings back the imagery and the beauty and the playfulness and the joy,” she says.
That’s why she thinks the ballet’s partnership with the Boulder Philharmonic is so important.
“A collaboration between live music and live performance is rare these days, and the Boulder Phil is a live, full orchestra,” Hubiak says. “The collaboration is a special one to be able to witness. It’s not something you can ever get on video.”
The cast is made up of Boulder Ballet’s professional company of 13 dancers, plus between 80 and 90 children dancers. About 120 children audition for the honor every year.
As part of the commitment, the children’s families agree to volunteer to help with the show in some way, like with costumes; each costume is fitted to each performer. Hubiak says that’s a huge undertaking and the volunteers are crucial.
There are some new costumes this year, she says.
“Keep an eye out for that: penguins on pointe,” she says.
Local tips: Tickets for “The Nutcracker” sell out quickly, so get yours as early as possible. Also, bring some extra money and set aside extra time to shop. The ballet sells trinkets, ornaments and other gifts to raise money for its dancers’ fund and outreach programs.
www.boulderphil.org/nutcracker, 303-449-1343, ext. 2. www.longmontsymphony.org/concerts/nutcrackerballet
Stay tuned: This is part one in a three-part series about the Boulder Ballet and Boulder Philharmonic. Next week: a closer look at the Boulder Ballet, its major growth and a special performance coming to Boulder next year called Modern Masters. Part three: up close with the Boulder Phil.