by Emily Sorensen
njoy a magical ballet experience with the Southern California Ballet’s 26th annual production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola Road.
This will be the first production of “The Nutcracker” since SCB founder and artistic director Sylvia Palmer-Zetler retired earlier this year. She was succeeded by former SCB student and Rancho Bernardo High School graduate Martha Leebolt, as well as Leebolt’s dancing partner and husband, Toby Batley.
“(Being artistic director) has been really good,” said Leebolt, who danced with the Northern Ballet in Leeds, England for 15 years prior to returning to San Diego. “There’s obviously been a lot of work organizing things, but it’s been really rewarding.”
Leebolt said she and Batley have not made any significant changes to the production this year. The duo re-choreographed and restructured parts of the second act last year while directing, which Leebolt said they will retain for this year’s show.
The show has also had some tweaks, she said, to tighten up scenes and make sure the audience is kept on track to follow a certain character through the show. “We made sure it was streamlined,” she said.
The show will continue its tradition of bringing in guest artists to perform the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Leebolt guested as the Sugar Plum Fairy twice, in 2014 and 2015.
This year, Laura Somers Moreton, a dancer with the Atlanta Ballet, will perform the role. David Ward, formerly of the Northern Ballet and Balletmet Columbus, will dance as her Cavalier. San Diego native Isaiah Bindel, formerly with the San Francisco Ballet and DanceDawsonSF, will perform as the Snow Cavalier.
Most of the roles will be filled by 92 students from the Southern California Ballet, as well as 14 adult volunteers, mostly parents, who will portray the parents in the party scene. “It’s really fun to have the actual parents onstage (with their children),” Leebolt said. “It’s a real family affair.”
Leebolt said things have been “constant” since she and Batley took over as artistic directors on Sept. 1. “We have not stopped,” she said. “But everyone has been dancing really well, the volunteers have been amazing, everything has been running smoothly.”
Even with “The Nutcracker” preparing for performance, Leebolt said there won’t be much of a break, as the SCB will be preparing for its spring performance, “Coppelia,” followed by exams for students.
“It’s a constant well, but we’re keeping on top of it,” she said. “It’s hectic but going well.”
Tickets for the show range from $25 to $43 for adults, with discounts for children 18 and under, students with I.D., seniors, military and groups available. Tickets are available at the box office, by calling 858-748-0505 or online at powaycenter.com.