LA Youth Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ Featuring Dancers from the Joffrey Ballet: Whimsically, Winsomely, Winterful!

Photo Courtesy of Iker Gutierrez

Just down around the second to last week of December and a fortnight before January 6th (aka Bean Day, Apple Tree Day, National Shortbread Day, National Take a Poet to Lunch Day, and more fittingly National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day…and Epiphany,) hundreds of ballet enthusiasts, hot chocolate swillers, and gingerbread man killers the city over descended upon Glendale’s Eminent Alex Theatre to witness the spectacle of the season, LA Youth Ballet’s The Nutcracker!

Performed on the evening of December 22nd and the afternoon of December 23rd and evening of December 23rd, the production marked the first performance ever of the classic Holiday favorite by the LA Youth Ballet.  “I am truly thrilled to bring you Los Angeles Youth Ballet’s very first production of The Nutcracker based on the book by ETA Hoffman and set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score,” graciously exclaimed artistic director Andrea Paris-Gutierrez. “We have devoted the last 5 months to preparing this brand-new production with original choreography, costume designs and sets. The effort on the stage and off has been huge – our biggest production ever!  The support we have received to mount this ballet has been unbelievable and I am eternally grateful. And now we all see our work come to fruition in these sparkling performances.”

Featuring Joffrey Ballet’s Dylan Gutierrez and Jeraldine Mendoza as the Snow King and Queen respectively, this not to be missed (but no choice ‘cause you missed it now–but no matter, the LA Beat was on the scene to recount it most efficaciously for your pleasure) production was as delightful as it was mesmerizing!

Photo Courtesy of Iker Gutierrez

Featuring the use of both set pieces, scrim, and projections alike, even the most cold blooded of equatorial denizens the Southland over, could not help but feel the frost of winter and the warmth of the fire as the curtain rose on party guests parading the city street towards the home of the Stahlbaum’s only to witness the stage swiftly transmogrify itself into the lovely parlor that would highlight the opening and festive party!

From there on Drosselmeye-headed clocks, to growing Christmas trees, gargantuan mice, flowery waltzes and snow covered fairies abounded to copious amounts of magic and wonder!

Annie Bernstein and Malcolm McLaurin Takumi were just delightful as Clara and Fritz along with Sophia Goldsmith as their older sister Louise. Yes. Did you know Clara and Fritz had an older Sister Louise; apparently they do and this particular Nutcracker was the first I have ever seen to include her. John Atkins was wonderfully avuncular and animated as Clara’s heretofore mysterious godfather  Drosselmeyer

Photo Courtesy of Iker Gutierrez

Darrion Sellman was positively captivating  as Drosselmeyer’s nephew, to speak nothing of his height and extension regarding anything involving jumping arabesqueing or tenduing to the highest degree!  Truly the chocolate ice cream on the hot fudge sundae that was this experience! (Seriously, this kid is going places!!!)

The highlight and maraschino cherry above and beyond all however would have to be the impeccable dancing, poise, balance and control of both Dylan Gutierrez and Jeraldine Mendoza as the Snow King and Queen. Their coordination was beyond breath taking!

It is also coincidentally interesting to note that Gutierreiz just happens to be the son of the artistic director!

All in all, a most colorful, coordinated and festive afternoon of music and dance!

For more information on the LA Youth Ballet and the Los Angeles Ballet Academy, please visit:


Jennifer K. Hugus

About Jennifer K. Hugus

Jennifer K. Hugus was born at a very young age. At an even earlier age, she just knew she would one day write for the LA Beat! Having grown up in Massachusetts, France, and Denmark, she is a noted fan of Asian Cuisine. She studied ballet at the Royal Danish Ballet Theatre and acting at U.S.C. in their prestigious BFA drama program. She also makes her own jewelry out of paints and canvas when she isn’t working on writing absurdist plays and comparatively mainstream screenplays. Jennifer would like to be a KID when she grows up!
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