By Avichai Scher for Dance Magazine
Choreographer Val Caniparoli started his ballet career by performing in Lew Christensen’s The Nutcracker with San Francisco Ballet in 1971. Today, he still performs with SFB as Drosselmeir, in the company’s current version by Helgi Tomasson.
It takes Caniparoli a lot of concentration to stick to the choreography.
“I have the four versions that I choreographed of the role in my head, plus the original I danced for years by Lew,” he says. “That’s a lot of versions to keep straight.”
In October, Royal New Zealand Ballet premiered Caniparoli’s fourth production of Nutcracker. Grand Rapids Ballet and Louisville Ballet both dance other versions by him, and Cincinnati Ballet performed his first version from 2001-2010. There are some similarities in the productions, mainly in the corps choreography in snow and flowers, but each production reimagines the various divertissement, the party scene and the story arc for Marie, the Prince and Drosselmeir.
We caught up with Caniparoli to find out how (and why) he reinvented this classic so many times and how he copes with Nutcracker fatigue.