New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns to dance in "Nutcracker" at Garde

Sara Mearns with Eastern Connecticut Ballet dancers during Summer Intensive “In Balanchine’s Footsteps.” (Photo by Gene Schiavone)
Sara Mearns with Eastern Connecticut Ballet dancers during Summer Intensive “In Balanchine’s Footsteps.” (Photo by Gene Schiavone)

The New York City Ballet’s Sara Mearns, one of the greatest ballerinas of our day, says that she’s been performing in the “Nutcracker” since she was 3 years old. “I was a mouse,” she said in an interview with The Day last week. “'The Nutcracker' is one of those ballets that hundreds of companies around the country perform every year. It’s tradition.”

Speaking of traditions: the Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s performance of the show is returning to the Garde Arts Center this weekend, and it will feature Mearns as the Sugar Plum Fairy. This year will be Mearns’ fifth year performing the show at the Garde, a performance that Mearns says she looks forward to every Christmas season, crediting the younger ballerinas for the inspiration and passion that she brings into her performance while visiting the venue from New York.

But Mearns isn’t the only person who makes this ECB rendition of their Balanchine-inspired “Nutcracker” exquisite. There is also the former ballerina, ECB artistic director and teacher Gloria Govrin overseeing the production — a dancer who studied under Balanchine himself. Balanchine did, after all, choreograph the role of Coffee (the Arabian dance character) specifically for her, which will now be played by the school’s Bailee Columber and Ellie Wiese. Jared Angle, another principal dancer from the NYCB, will also share the spotlight alongside Mearns.

Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” 1:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $22-$49; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org.

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