Eastern Connecticut Ballet presents "The Nutcracker"

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You could say that Sara Mearns has become a fixture at Eastern Connecticut Ballet’s “Nutcracker” — and what a fabulous fixture for this “Nutcracker” to have. The New York City Ballet principal dancer, who is one of the great ballerinas of this era, has danced the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the last four ECB performances at the Garde Arts Center.

Mearns was brought to ECB by a former New York City Ballet star, Gloria Govrin. Govrin is now ECB’s artistic director, and back in the day, she was a ballet luminary dancing for the iconic George Balanchine at NYCB. He, in fact, created choreography specifically for Govrin — including for when she danced the role of Coffee in “The Nutcracker.” Govrin now is training a different Coffee, ECB’s Tierin-Rose Mandelburg, 18, of Waterford. Mandelburg will wear a costume created by designers who consulted historic photos of Govrin as Coffee.

Another NYCB principal dancer, Jared Angle, will join Mearns in ECB’s “Nutcracker.” So will Evelyn Kocak, formerly with NYCB and Pennsylvania Ballet; Peter Chursin, who was in the Broadway revival of “On the Town” as well as various TV and stage productions; and Francis Veyette of Miami City Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet.

They will perform alongside the young dancers from ECB in East Lyme — with more than 100 dancers onstage in all. Providing the musical accompaniment will be members of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Paul Polivnick.

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; $25-$50; (860) 444-7373, gardearts.org.



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