American Ballet Theatre will be at the Orange County Performing Arts Center next December in a one-week "Nutcracker" engagement, Mikhail Baryshnikov, company artistic director, announced Thursday.
The long-expected announcement was made at a press conference near the site of the Orange County center--which is set to open Sept. 29 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.
This production of "The Nutcracker"--first staged at the Kennedy Center in Washington in 1976 and today beginning a 12-day engagement in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, is directed and choreographed by Baryshnikov.
The production will run in the 3,000-seat theater at the Orange County Center next year from Dec. 9-14 with six evening performances and two "family" matinees and then will be staged in Los Angeles for another two weeks.
Both Baryshnikov and ABT Executive Director Charles Dillingham made clear Thursday that the 1986 run was a test of Orange County response.
Earlier this fall, Dillingham in an interview had said the company was discussing a "split season"--"The Nutcracker" in December, 1986, and a run in spring, 1987. But Thursday he said no such additional run was being contemplated, adding that "we'll see how this (December) visit works out" before a 1987-88 appearance is considered.
Dillingham said the Orange County Performing Arts Center --which will be the presenter--will be "the primary group assuming the (cost) risks." He did not disclose what the costs will be to bring the 83-dancer company to the area.
In reply to a question on whether his company was currently downplaying star performers, Baryshnikov said, "It ('The Nutcracker') is a company piece. . .we are seeking to concentrate on the company, not on individual dancers.
"But," he added, "we do have a lot of wonderful young dancers (who) are learning and performing this ballet this year (for the) first time: Alessandra Ferri, Bonnie Moore, Amanda McKerrow. And we are coming with all our principal dancers Leslie Browne (officially listed as a soloist with the company) and Kevin McKenzie, Robert La Fosse, Marianna Tcherkassky.
"They all dance this particular ballet."
Although Baryshnikov said he was still recovering from injuries and is not presently dancing, he held out the possibility of performing in "The Nutcracker" next year in Orange County. "If I'm not retired (from dancing by then), there's a possible chance here."
The New York-based American Ballet Theatre, which will be appearing in San Francisco (Feb. 18-March 2), Los Angeles (March 4-23), San Diego (March 25-29) in the spring, is the first dance company signed for the Orange County center's opening 1986-87 season. Center officials said they also have been having talks with the New York City Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet for forthcoming seasons.