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Ballet: ‘Clara’s Dream’

Posted on 06 November 2017 by Calvin

St. Paul Ballet to Perform Clara’s Dream from The Nutcracker
December 1-3, 2017 at The O’Shaughnessy

Clara’s Dream from The Nutcracker” returns December 1st for the second time at The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine’s University. Hailed as a “magical mystery tour” by Minnpost in 2016, Clara’s Dream tells the tale of Clara’s journey from adolescence to adulthood with professional dancers, spectacular sets and a dream that will linger long after the curtain closes – all in 90 minutes.

After a successful transition from Macalester College’s Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center to the bigger stage and audience of the O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul Ballet will bring the fresh scenery designed last year by Anne Henly, along with new costumes, a larger cast, and the same beloved story to audiences this year, kicking off the winter holiday season. Performances are as follows:

  • Friday, December 1, 2017 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017 – 1p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017 – 2:00 p.m. (Please join us for a Talk Back with the Company: Immediately following the Saturday and Sunday matinees meet Clara, the Soldier General and the Sugar Plum Fairy!)

Tickets range from $20 to $35 and are available through The O’Shaughnessy website or by calling the box office at (651) 690-6700.

SPB is thrilled to welcome Minnesota favorite, Chris Hannon (James Sewell Ballet) to the production as Drosselmeyer, Clara’s mysterious uncle who leads her to the Land of Sweets and back home again. Company dancer Michelle Ludwig will reprise her role as Clara.

“We believe audiences will leave thoroughly satisfied by the caliber of St. Paul Ballet and the new fantastical technical production,” Artistic Director Henrot said. “It’s our gift to the community.” With original choreography from Artistic Director Zoé Emilie Henrot, “Clara’s Dream from The Nutcracker” is fun for all ages. The 90-minute show is a perfect way to introduce young children to the power and beauty of classical dance with Tchiakovsky’s amazing and familiar score.


Based on the original story, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by ETA Hoffman, SPB has reimagined the story, but with Clara as the star. The ballet opens with the familiar 19th-century holiday party where we are introduced to Clara and her uncle Drosselmeyer, a magician who arrives with dancing dolls. After the party Clara falls asleep and the magic begins in her dreams. A tree grows and a battle between mice and toy soldiers unfolds. She travels through the Land of Snow to the Land of Sweets to meet waltzing flowers, nursery rhyme characters, dancers from many lands and the iconic Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s a magical journey of Clara’s evolution from adolescence to adulthood.


Founded in 2002, SPB has established a reputation for artistic excellence and innovation in utilizing an artist-led model for dance companies. SPB’s vision is to lift the human spirit through the art of ballet.

SPB began as a training school offering pre-professional and recreational ballet at the historic 1680 Grand Avenue “studio above the hardware store.” In 2007, SPB contracted its first professional company of six dancers.

SPB began a new chapter in 2013 under the guidance of Artistic Advisor Christina Onusko and Executive Director Lori Gleason. In 2014, Zoé Emilie Henrot began directing the company of six professional dancers and four apprentices. The company performs a repertoire of classical and contemporary works, ranging from story ballets to innovative works by local, national and international choreographers that explore new directions for ballet to ensure its continued relevance in the 21st century. Learn more at www.spballet.org.


This is Zoé Henrot’s third season with St. Paul Ballet. In 2015 she was promoted to Artistic Director of the company. Zoé is an emerging choreographer whose work has been influenced by prominent choreographers such as Peter Davison, Ana Claire, Jim Coleman, Terese Freedman, Rose & Charles Flachs, Kinsun Chan, and Diane Coburn-Bruning. In 2011, she began ‘Becoming Undone,’ her largest work, which premiered in March 2012. In November 2012, Ms. Henrot was invited to be a guest choreographer for the Five College Dance Department in Massachusetts. She choreographed ‘Gray Matter,’ which premiered at the Southern Theater as part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival in August 2013. Her most recent work, ‘Nadine,’ followed in 2014. Zoé received most of her dance training from Boulder Ballet in Colorado, becoming an apprentice with the company in the 2007-2008 season. She attended Mount Holyoke College where she studied Dance and Biological Sciences. In addition to her training in Boulder and at Mount Holyoke College, Zoé has trained with Kansas City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Joffrey Ballet.


Anne Henly, a Twin Cities-based scenic designer, holds a BA in Studio Art from Macalester College and an MFA in Scenic Design from the University of Minnesota’s Theatrical Design and Technology Program. “In my life, I crave a meaningful artistic practice that allows me to work with my hands everyday and work as part of a team,” she says. Ms. Henly’s goal is to make theatre productions that distill the message/story/scenery to its essence in order for the audience to make connections more easily without extraneous visual distractions.

Last year, SPB unveiled breathtaking new scenery for the growing tree and the Land of the Sweets designed by Ms. Henly. Her newest creation makes its debut this year in the party and battle scenes.

“In the opening scenes, I have created a cozy and festive Victorian living room, complete with fancy drapes, gilded frames, and big bookshelves,” says Henly. She has used special techniques and colors to give the illusion of a grandiose living room, with high ceilings and a snow scene distinguishable through the large windows, a peak of what’s to come later in the performance.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

St. Paul Ballet gratefully acknowledges the following supporters: Saint Paul Foundation and Caroline Amplatz Giving

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