My little ditty of a story in the Sunday Chronicle:

“San Francisco Ballet was the first company to dance the full “Nutcracker” in North America, in 1944. But it was George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet that turned the then-relatively unknown Tchaikovsky score into a holiday tradition – and the ballet world’s bread and butter – in the 1950s. Now San Francisco Ballet is about to reclaim the “Nutcracker” mantle in a big way with the nationwide PBS “Great Performances” broadcast of Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s “Nutcracker” – set in 1915 San Francisco – on Dec. 17.

With its softly fog-shrouded sets and sumptuous Edwardian-era costumes, the Ballet’s “Nutcracker”- also soon available on a DVD from Opus Arte/Naxos – looks tailor-made for its close-up. But Tomasson wasn’t thinking about television when he conceived his widely acclaimed $3.5 million production, which premiered in 2004.

“After the fact, so many people said, what a beautiful production, and it takes place in San Francisco,” said Tomasson, who devised a scenario in which the teenage Clara dreams about the fantastical sights she’s just seen at the city’s World’s Fair. “That got the ball rolling.”

Tomasson’s “Nutcracker” was filmed over three performances last December, with eight cameras capturing every angle of glamorous Yuan Yuan Tan as the Snow Queen and technically virtuosic Vanessa Zahorian as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Emmy-winning director Matthew Diamond, who also directed the Ballet’s 2003 recording of “Othello,” said filming the gorgeous Act 2 divertissements of waltzing flowers, French cancan girls and a wild Chinese dragon was the easy part – it was editing the story-packed Act 1 that posed a challenge.”

Click here for the full story.

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