Monday, November 25, 2013

The Nutcracker 2013

For most of us, The Nutcracker is something that we see every year. Why? The Nutcracker is the perfect example of holiday magic in a beautiful story without the chaos and noise of the holidays. It's Christmas as it should be, even if it is in our dreams.
Ballet Nebraska always excels with intertwining tradition with creative artistry in telling this traditional Russian Christmas story. This past weekend, Ballet Nebraska opened their Nutcracker performances at Iowa Western Community College. The program will continue at The Orpheum Theater in Omaha on December 7th at 2 and 7:30 p.m. as well as 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 8th. Incorporating local young dancers into this choreographed extravaganza has to be a monumental task considering that this year Ballet Nebraska has more than 120 students mingling among their 18 professional dancers with singers from Opera Omaha's Children's Chorus and a dog from Nebraska Humane Society for every performance.

As Clara, Kalin and Katie Rice, identical twins, excelled in this role expressing emotions beautifully through dance and movement. The choreography is always exceptional with Ballet Nebraska with multiple dances frequently on-stage at one time to create realism and engagement with the audience. Erika Overturff as Artistic Director along with Matthew Carter, Ballet Master excelled with their creative ideas this year. As usual, the sets, costumes, make-up, and hair were all outstanding. This is always one of Ballet Nebraska's strengths.

The professional dancers are always conscious of the children assisting the youngster's with their excited energy while staying within the storyline.  It seemed that in this particular performance, the male professional dancers seemed to leap higher than in previous years making their dances more exciting.
The performance including intermission lasted approximately two hours which is perfect for young children.
Most noticeable and exciting to me is the quietness of the performance. Yes, there is Tchaikovsky's delightfully picturesque music, but even when the dancers appear to be talking, there is no sound from them. With long leaps, jumps, movements, you never hear "prancing and pawing of each little hoof" as Santa's reindeer, you literally see movements but absolutely no sound is coming from the stage. No, their gracefulness creates silence in telling this story.
I was delighted this year to see The Nutcracker character actually on stage for most of the performance and interacting with the dancers. His presence is needed as he is important in the story line. This is an issue that seems to be missing from many performances of this ballet from numerous companies which is an integral part of the story.
Some of the traditional songs were shortened slightly that sometimes created an awkward cut-off to the end of the ethnic dances feeling a little awkward and ironic, considering the gracefulness of the performance.
To purchase tickets for this wonderful event on December 7th and 8th at The Orpheum contact, or call (402) 345-0606, or at The Omaha Performing Arts box office at the Holland Center, 12th and Douglas Street in Omaha with seat prices between $25 to $59.
This elegant gracefulness during the busy holiday season is invigorating to those of us who can only dream, like Clara, of the beauty, artistry. and the glorious quietness of the ballet.

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