Albany Berkshire Ballet returns to new work

By Amy Biancolli

Even if you don’t know ballet, you know “The Nutcracker”: Like eggnog, reindeer sweaters and the rosemary scent of pine trees, it’s an eternal harbinger of Christmas. In the Capital Region, one of its chief purveyors is the Albany Berkshire Ballet, which has mounted 38 productions of Tchaikovsky’s tale of Clara, Fritz and the Mouse King.

For the last several years, those “Nutcrackers” have been the company’s mainstay. More than a mainstay: That’s pretty much all they’ve done. The professional company with a toe shoe in two cities — Albany and Pittsfield, Mass. — once offered other types of programming at other times of year. When the financial crunch forced it to downscale in ambition and budget, the ballet began to train its energy on performances of just the one, beloved chestnut every year. With its masses of student dancers from its own schools, “The Nutcracker” drew families and seasonal ballet lovers from around the region. And it will again, come Christmas.

But this month, for the first time in several years, the Albany Berkshire Ballet is offering two all-professional performances of non-”Nutcracker” works: the first at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the University at Albany’s Performing Arts Center, the second at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at the Barrington Stage in Pittsfield.

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