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Grand Junction Symphony’s presentation of The Nutcracker returns this Holiday season for three performances.

November 2, 2017

A holiday celebration to share! Dancing toys, mischievous mice, waltzing flowers and sparkling snowflakes dance to Tchaikovsky’s beloved score performed by the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra for three performances on Saturday, December 9th at 2:00pm and 7:30pm and Sunday, December 10th at 2pm. All performances will be held at the Grand Junction High School Auditorium.

The Nutcracker, a classical ballet in two acts based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, follows the enchanting journey of young Clara, who receives a Nutcracker as a gift at a Christmas Eve party. Her nutcracker is ultimately transformed into a handsome young prince, who leads her through an enchanted forest and on to the Palace of Sweets, where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. Among the ballet’s most famous and memorable moments are a battle between toy soldiers and overgrown mice, a Christmas tree that grows to huge heights, the pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and a shimmering snow scene.

Community members along with children from local dance companies and Colorado Mesa University dancers have been rehearsing nearly every Saturday since this summer and make up the core group of about 60 performers in this year’s production. They are under the direction of choreographer Meredith Lyons who is Assistant Professor of Dance at Colorado Mesa University.

GJSO Music Director Charles Latshaw will be leading the orchestra from “down in the pit” in his Nutcracker conducting debut.

This year, the Grand Junction Symphony is excited to announce that the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier will be danced by Anaïs Chalendard and Sabi Varga from the Boston Ballet.

Anaïs Chalendard trained in Marseille with Dominique Khalfouni in the Ecole Nationale de danse de Marseille Roland Petit. She has studied in Germany in Dusseldorf with Youri Vamos, Berlin with Vladimir Malakov and Karlsruhe with Brigit Keil. Chalendard premiered the leading role in Terence Kohler’s Anna Karenina and Gamzatti in his La Bayadere. She also enjoyed participating in the creation of Ray Barra’s Carmen as Carmen and many other choreographic workshops by Renato Zanella, David Bombana, and Terence Kohler.

Chalendard joined the English National Ballet in 2008 where she was promoted to first soloist following performances in Manon and The Dying Swan. She also appeared in performances organized by Carlos Acosta dancing a pas de deux (Young Apollo) especially created for her and Junor de Oliveira Souza by choreographer Adam Hougland. In 2009, she received the “Emerging Dancer Award” after dancing Nikiya’s Death from La Bayadere.

In 2012, Chalendard appeared at the Nureyev Festival in Russia as Giselle with Principal Josef Varga from Het National Ballet, and as Odette/Odile in Derek Dean’s Swan Lake with the English National Ballet. She has been listed in the “100 Best Dancers in the World” by Dance Europe Magazine. In June 2013, she was invited to dance Erik Bruhn’s La Sylphide with Friedemann Vogel, principal with the Stuttgart Ballet, and Rolando Sarabia, international guest artist, at the Teatro Dell Opera di Roma. Chalendard joined the Boston Ballet in 2013 as a second soloist.

Szabolcs (Sabi) Varga received his training at the Hungarian Dance Academy in Budapest, Hungary. In 1997, he was named “Best Young Dancer” at the International Rudolf Nureyev Competition. Upon graduation he joined Alberta Ballet under the direction of Mikko Nissinen. There he performed principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Helgi Tomasson, and Christopher Wheeldon. In 2002, Nissinen invited Varga to join Boston Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. He was promoted to second soloist in 2004 and to soloist in 2006.

Special thanks to the Dave & Mary Wood Fund of the Western Colorado Community Foundation, Alpine Bank, Monument Health, Rocky Mountain Orthopaedic Associates, Ed Bozarth Chevrolet-Buick, and Columbine Caregivers for their support of this year’s production.

Tickets for all performances are available now and range from $20-$40 for adults and only $5 for children and students. They can be purchase online at, by calling 970-243-6787 or visiting the Grand Junction Symphony Office at 414 Main Street. They may also be purchased one hour prior to each performance at the Grand Junction High School Auditorium Box Office.

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