Go nuts with ‘The Great Russian Nutcracker’
Perhaps the most well known of all ballets is the “Great Russian Nutcracker,” and West Texas fans will get a chance to watch the show Dec. 29 at the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center. The famed Russian company performs 100 engagements each year in the United States and in Canadian cities including most of the largest cities. The Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker,” and other classic ballets entertain tens of thousands during the holiday season. Dancers of the Moscow Ballet are among the best in the world and include laureates and winners of top awards at international ballet competitions around the world. Company members and ballet masters are graduates of top Russian schools including Bolshoi, Mariinsky/Kirov and Perm. The original “Great Russian Nutcracker” choreographer Stanislav Vlasov is a former member of the Bolshoi Company; former Ballet Master Anatolie Emelianov graduated from the Perm School; and Ballet Master Anna Nekhludova is a Bolshoi Academy graduate. Set and production designer Valentin Federov is a student of Valery Leventhal of the Bolshoi Theater. The show has tickets in a variety of prices and include a chance for a platinum ticket that includes a Nutcracker doll and a Moscow Ballet Book with each ticket purchased. In addition, Platinum Ticket buyers will have a meetand-greet opportunity before the performance,
which will bring purchasers back stage on a guided tour. The show is a Christmas tradition around the world since 1993. Directed and choreographed by Stanislav Vlasov, former soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet, the inaugural six-week tour starred principal ballerina Lillia Sabitova. It also featured the rolling backgrounds first created by a St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music producer, and which were the inspiration for Eisenstein’s cinematic technique. Since then the annual tour has increased to include about 100 performances on the tour to cities from San Juan to Calgary, and from New York to California, traveling with two simultaneously touring companies of 40 dancers each. The show also includes dancers from Midland and Odessa who auditioned in September to fill parts in the show.
What is the Nutcracker?
The story includes Tchaikovsky’s classic score during which magical Uncle Drosselmeyer prepares Christmas gifts for niece Masha and nephew Fritz at Mayor Stahlbaum’s family home. The music sets the fanciful holiday mood by using upper registers of the orchestra exclusively as the curtain soon opens to reveal the Moscow city skyline and guests arriving for the Christmas Eve Party. Masha, little brother Fritz and mother and father Stahlbaum celebrate the holiday with friends and family when
beloved godfather Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives with his magical gifts. Uncle Drosselmeyer presides over a puppet show which foreshadows the events of the Nutcracker ballet and then produces a large bag of Christmas gifts for all the children. All are very happy, except Masha, who has yet to be presented a gift. Uncle Drosselmeyer uses a super-sized Matrushka Doll to unveil his life-sized Kissy, Harlequin and Moorish Dolls as presents for all to enjoy in wonderment. The festivities continue with the adults dancing the stately Russian Court dances, which the youngsters mimic. When
the dances are finished, Masha approaches Uncle Drosselmeyer asking for her Christmas gift and he gives her a beautiful toy Nutcracker in the traditional shape of a soldier. Masha is overjoyed, but her brother Fritz is jealous and breaks the Nutcracker. The party soon ends, guests make their way sleepily home and Masha falls asleep. While the family is sleeping, Uncle Drosselmeyer repairs the Nutcracker Doll. As the clock strikes midnight, Masha hears the sound of mice scurrying in her bedroom. She wakes up and tries to run away, but the mice stop her. Perhaps Masha is still in a dream? The Christmas tree suddenly begins to grow to enormous size, filling the room, and the Nutcracker Doll comes to life. He rises to defend Masha against the Mouse King who leads his mice into battle. Here, Tchaikovsky continues the miniature effect of the Overture, setting the battle music again predominantly in the or
chestra’s upper registers. A conflict ensues, and when Masha helps the Nutcracker Doll by throwing her shoe at the Mouse King, the Nutcracker seizes his opportunity and defeats him. The mice retreat, taking their wounded leader with them. The Nutcracker is then transformed into a handsome Nutcracker Prince! Masha and her Nutcracker Prince travel to the Snow Forrest where traditional Russian folk figures, Ded Moroz (Father Christmas) and Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) welcome Masha and her Nutcracker Prince and escort them
to the Land of Peace and Harmony. The score conveys the wondrous effect of the journey by introducing a wordless children’s chorus. The final scene of the holiday Christmas celebration concludes with a lush Waltz of the Flowers featuring a full company of eight men and eight women. Finally Masha and the Nutcracker Prince express their gratitude for the lovely evening and party by dancing a Grand Pas de Deux of their own. The night is over, Masha awakens to find herself back in her own bedroom with the beloved Nutcracker Doll by her side.