By Barbara Burger


“The Nutcracker” at The Granada is the final stop in State Street Ballet’s annual tour of the western states, with three performances Dec. 21-22. The company tours the holiday classic at numerous venues, from Fresno to Spokane and Durango, incorporating local dance students and musicians into the productions, and offering educational and outreach opportunities along the way.

This season’s Granada performances of the classic ballet feature students from Gustafson Dance, a youth choir from Matilija Junior High, and Opera San Luis Obispo Grand Orchestra. The role of Clara — the girl who dreams that her nutcracker comes to life — is cast from among local dance students. This year, the role will be danced by Ashly Pryor and Ella Rotondo. 

Rotondo is a junior at San Marcos High School, has trained at Gustafson Dance for 10 years, and has danced with State Street Ballet Young Dancers, performing at Regional Dance America festivals across the country.  

Pryor is a freshman at Laguna Blanca School, has trained at Gustafson Dance since she was 3 years old, and is in her third year with State Street Ballet Young Dancers, the school’s pre-professional performing company.

Featured State Street Ballet company dancers include Deise Mendonça (Brazil) and Marika Kobayashi (Japan) in the role of Sugar Plum Fairy; Francois Llorente (Cuba) and Jack Stewart (New Mexico) as the Cavalier; Saori Yamashita (Japan) as Snow Queen; and Sergei Domrachev (Russia) as Mother Ginger.

Music is by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; choreography by Rodney Gustafson and Gary McKenzie with additional choreography by Marina Fliagina, Megan Philipp and Cecily MacDougall. Costume design is by A. Christina Giannini, Nicole Thompson and Mary Etta Lang; set design by Daniel Nyiri and Yuriy Samodurov; and mask and doll design by Robert Joyce.

State Street Ballet’s silver anniversary season at The Granada continues with the premiere of “Sleeping Beauty” (March 14), the newest story ballet in the company’s Family Series. The annual showcase of contemporary choreography, Modern Masters (May 8-9), is at the New Vic.

State Street Ballet’s 2019-20 season is funded by Tim Mikel, Margo-Cohen Feinberg and Robert Feinberg, with additional funding provided by Barbara Burger and Paul E. Munch. “The Nutcracker” performances are 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22. Tickets are available at or The Granada box office, 805-899-2222.