Chamber orchestra joins in ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet


Borderlands Ballet Company (BBC) presents its 2023 performance of “The Nutcracker” in December, including the Paso del Norte Chamber Orchestra (PDNCO), housed under the umbrella of Borderland Arts Foundation (BAF) and conducted by violist and New Mexico State University music professor Jorge Martiniz-Rios, BBA said in a news release.

Performances are 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 8-9, 15-16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, and Sunday, Dec. 17, at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, 1000 E. University Ave.

The show’s running time is one hour and 45 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.

Tickets are $25. Reserve seats at

 “Our shows have been basically selling out the last few years and we felt it was time to expand our performances – particularly adding a second matinee for those who prefer the earlier showing,” BBC board member Marc Moffett said.

 BBC’s collaboration with BAF is part of the foundation’s mission “to collaborate with professional arts organizations from the region,” Martinez-Rios said. “When the possibility for this collaboration arose, I didn’t think twice. I’ve seen the work and dedication of Borderlands Ballet and I knew that working together would bring a first-rate performance to our community.”

“Tchaikovsky’s score is such an amazing piece of music, and at the same time it is so accessible,” said BBC Artist Director Monique Foster. “Unfortunately, it’s rarely performed as a stand-alone piece and so few people get to hear it live. Once we started talking with Jorge about this collaboration, I knew we had found someone who would immerse themselves in the project and deliver a phenomenal performance for our audiences.”

PDCO includes musicians from the El Paso and Las Cruces symphonies, NMSU faculty and selected NMSU students, the news release said.

The part of Clara will be performed by 12-year-old Isabella Jacquez, “the young girl who leads us from a stodgy Victorian Christmas party to a magical Land of Sweets,” Moffett said.

Performing her first featured role, Isabella said she “is excited, but also scared. It’s kind of scary going from being one of the dancers in a group to be the person everyone is watching!”

Olivia Leon, who played Clara four years ago, is now reprising her performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy, one of the biggest parts in “The Nutcracker.”

“It’s really exciting and rewarding, especially getting the opportunity to dance this role with a live orchestra,” said Olivia, an NMSU freshman. “But it’s still frightening. I have this sense of pressure to make sure everything is better than last time!”

Other BBC dancers performing in “The Nutcracker” include Brooke Gonzales (Dew Drop Fairy), Daniel Lindsay and Juliana Garcia (Snow King and Queen), John Pohl and Avery Hinckley (Candy Canes), Janelle Hernandez and BBC apprentices Tara Gandy and Isabella Olivares (Coffee), Rachel Breck and Avery Hinckley (Chocolate), and Megan Krier (Ballerina Doll). Guest artists include Julian Cavett (Godfather Drosselmeyer) and Kinnon Fields (Fritz).

BBC is a nonprofit dance company currently housed in the Las Cruces School of Dance & Music and serves the entire borderland region with performances and educational outreach, Moffett said.

“The company looks forward to its regional tour of ‘Coppelia’ this spring in Las Cruces, Ruidoso and Roswell,” he said.

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