The Ballet Theatre of Toledo performs The Nutcracker

Lawrence Kim
November 23, 2017

"The Nutcracker" Oakland Ballet Company: While Graham Lustig premiered his "Nutcracker" with New Jersey's American Repertory Ballet in 2000, his graceful production seems tailor-made for the Paramount Theatre's resplendent Art Deco finery.

Her pointe shoes may be a size or two larger, but the sights and sounds of the space where the Appalachian Ballet Company turns dance into art are familiar ones. The local dancers, along with 60 members of the GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony performing Tchaikovsky's celebrated score, will transport audiences into a holiday dreamland filled with clever nods to Music City's sparkly past, including well-known landmarks and characters.

Eric Beckham, a Columbia native who recently joined the Miami City Ballet and trained with Carolina Ballet beginning at age 8, will perform as the Nutcracker Cavalier.

No ballet experience is necessary for this dance party, and if you would rather not dance, there are seats available either inside the orchestra, where the sound will surround you and embrace you, or off to the sides (if you'd prefer to be like Marie in the second act).

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet based on the stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Alexandre Dumas and was first performed in Russian Federation in December, 1892.

"I have many official titles", said Daigle.

Tandy Beal and Company,"JOY!": Billed as a holiday show with circus, dance, and live music, Tandy Beal's "JOY!" is a follow up to last year's popular "Nutz RE-Mixed!"

"It's the one ballet people go to", said Eric Midgley, ballet master and school director for Dancers' Workshop.

This year's production will also feature worldwide guest artists like Korean dancer Seyhuan Jin as the Sugar Plum Fairy; Kevin Hernandez, a finalist in the World Ballet Competition, who will dance the Russian Sugar Twist divertissement; and Eriberto Jimenez, a native of Bogotà, Colombia, as Count Silberhaus.

The Ballet Theatre of Toledo performs The Nutcracker
The Ballet Theatre of Toledo performs The Nutcracker

She stares through the window at two dozen young dancers who throw their bodies up in front of her, their arms spreading backward, sweeping like a swan's wings.

For instance, his Uncle Drosselmeyer is very different from the traditional one; and, the way he's woven into the story is very different. Mr. Erickson, 10 years ago, wanting to solve this "unfulfilled storyline" issue, reconstructed the classic ballet to create a stronger and more impactful story.

Interest grew in this holiday classic since its premier in 1988 and now The Nutcracker ballet is an annual tradition performed at the Tree Lighting Festival in Denton and at the Margo Jones Performance Hall on the campus of Texas Woman's University. Morton, who's taking this season off from Atlanta Ballet to focus on guest roles in companies around the Atlanta area and beyond, was a natural choice for the role, although it will provide her a challenge, she said. "I love 'The Nutcracker.' Nothing gets me in the Christmas spirit more".

That connection to the many child performers in "Nutcracker" through the years is a big part of why Daigle was chosen to help with the exhibit.

"The opening scene is jaw-dropping", he said.

They made another trip to finish the staging, and then a Kennedy Center staffer took over preparing the children for their roles. "I was giving myself miniature rehearsals in my small Honda for a week".

"I think I'm going to have a sense of being home when I step on stage, but I think that there's going to be a lot of fear and adrenaline at the same time", she said.

"Ballet is ballet, but the stories you tell through ballet can vary wildly", Slager said. "I want to be very generous and loving as the Sugarplum Fairy, so I'm hoping I'll be able to bring that heart onto the stage".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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