Dragon roars as Ballet West unveils new ‘Nutcracker’ prop
Published: November 21, 2013 06:30PM
Updated: November 20, 2013 09:07PM
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Keith Johnson | The Salt Lake Tribune Dancers from Ballet West 2 rehearse with a 36-foot dragon at Trolley Square in Salt Lake City, Nov. 20, 2013. The dragon is s a new element in a Chinese variation of this season's production of "The Nutcracker."

On Wednesday outside their Trolley Square studios, Ballet West dancers unveiled a new prop, a 36-foot Chinese dragon, with a papier mache head and body of cotton with fur, sequins and jewels, for its 50th-anniversary production of “The Nutcracker,” which opens at the remodeled Capitol Theatre on Dec. 6 and runs through Dec. 30.

The Chinese variation is danced by a warrior who faces off with one male and six female dancers. It’s the first major addition to company founder Willam F. Christensen’s choreography since artistic director Adam Sklute took over the company seven “Nutcracker” seasons ago.

But the change also nods to tradition, as it draws the choreography of Christensen’s close collaborator and brother, Lew, former artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet. That’s the ballet that Sklute saw growing up in the Bay Area.