The Nutcracker

Minnesota Ballet

Robert Gardener started his life in dance as a mouse.

A mouse in the perennial holiday favorite The Nutcracker, that is.

Then, as so many dancers do, he moved up in the ranks of the cast as he gained experience and skill.

After 25 years in Duluth, over 30 years of dancing Tchaikovsky's lush score and three different productions of Allen Field's choreography, Gardner is the artistic director and ballet master of the Minnesota Ballet.

Robert Gardner

Since 1892, audiences have been coming to see Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker in December.  Part of the point of a tradition - especially a 125-year-long-one - is that you will see the familiar story and characters.  But by the same token, how do you keep such an old chestnut fresh for the audience and the performers?