This year has been a very different year for everyone in the world.  For many of us our usual family holiday traditions can not happen due to COVID.

In December Sierra Nevada Ballet traditionally performs The Peanutcarcker- The Story In A Nutshell at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno and at The Carson City Community Center for thousands of audience members (at least 4,000 of whom are children).   When we realized that we could not present this production “live” for children this year, we put our heads together to figure out what we could do for the community and the thousands of children who would not get to share the special Peanutcracker event.  That was the start of what would become: The Peanutcracker Project 2020.

“We typically host about 3,000 young school children each year at the Pioneer for the Peanutcracker.  It’s such a special tradition, and one that means so much to the students and teachers in our community.”  said Dennyse Sewell, Executive Director of the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. “We were thrilled when Sierra Nevada Ballet proposed a way to adapt this tradition safely during the pandemic.”  This project is designed as a special two segment virtual presentation for schools and families with young children.  The first segment features a “behind the scenes” look at the creation of Peanutcracker and the second segment is the actual filmed 2019 Peanutcracker performance at the Pioneer Center.  “We are very excited for the opportunity to give kids a glimpse of our backstage areas and some of the theater ‘magic’ that goes into live performance,” said Pioneer Center Events Director Devenney Leijon.  “This project gave us the chance to feature our amazing Technical Director, Italo Crocco, explaining what happens behind the scenes with these kinds of productions.”

This entertaining yet educational project explains the art of ballet and what is involved in creating a live ballet production, from the training and rehearsals in the ballet studio to the preparation at the theater and includes interviews with dancers, leading children and some of the backstage crew at the Pioneer Center.  The filming and editing was done by Lyric Burt and Taylor Wilson of TL Solutions.  Lyric said: “We hope that we have been able to capture on film the hard work and dedication that the SNB company members and Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts puts into bringing the Peanutcracker to our community each year.”  In this virtual presentation, technical Director Italo Croco explains what is involved in putting up a back drop, while SNB Lighting Director, Gary Guberman, explains how he creates the different stage moods by changing the colors of the lights.  “I became a lighting designer because I love working with different colors to create a mood.“ Gary said. “For instance, blue can give a sad mood while red can be happy when combined with some yellow or scary when used by itself.”

SNB has collaborated with the Pioneer Center to produce this special production and is offering it for free to the community on the Pioneer’s You Tube Channel thanks to sponsors including the City of Reno, the E. L. Cord Foundation, the Wayne L. Prim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Nevada Arts Council and the Marin Foundation.  “The year has certainly created unprecedented challenges for everyone, including students, teachers, and families,” said Pioneer Center Outreach Manager Breana Edgerton.  “This video presentation of The Peanutcracker enables Sierra Nevada Ballet and the Pioneer Center to work together to bring educational and entertaining holiday programming directly to families in their homes, at no cost.”

December has been special for SNB collaborating with the Pioneer Center on this production and with the City of Reno awarding $45, 000.00 to 34 individual dance artists in our community through the City of Reno grant to individual artists.

2020 was a very challenging year for all of us but still a year that has been filled with innovation and rewarding experiences.  We are so lucky to live in such a special community.

Stay safe, and Happy Holidays northern Nevada!!!