As the stores get more crowded and the temperature drops, the smell of peppermint fills the air and you know it’s the holiday season. If you are looking for ways to celebrate, add the Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” to your winter bucket list.
“The Nutcracker” alludes back to the simple time of being a child. It starts with a holiday party, the kind your parents would drag you to every year, and it centers on Clara as she receives a beloved gift – a nutcracker. At the Nov. 18 matinee performance, little kids filled the seats waiting for the magic on stage. Girls dressed in their holiday best clung to dolls, much like Clara to her Nutcracker.
Dana Benton and Adam Still. (Photo courtesy Mike Watson)
After a conventional beginning, the story delves into the imagination when, in a flash of smoke, the Nutcracker comes to life. The magical story made my inner child want to believe in Santa Claus again. It evoked the feeling of childhood play as the Nutcracker battled the Mouse King, and it filled me with an overwhelming sense of joy.
The music of the show was wonderful, showcasing the familiar tunes from Peter Tchaikovsky, like “Dance of the Snowflakes,” that place a smile on your face every time you hear them. The magnificent orchestra led by conductor Adam Flatt played delightful music that perfectly synced with every element of the show.
A breathtaking moment was when Clara and the Nutcracker danced among a beautiful glittering background as snow swirled around them. Ballerinas filtered in around the couple as if the snow had come to life. The combination of the falling snow, gorgeous costumes and the intricate moves of 20 ballerinas was enchanting.
The true talent of the show emerged in the second act when Clara and the Nutcracker travel to the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy and are dazzled by dances from multiple countries. The Arabian coffee dancer, Shelby Dyer, was phenomenal. She had incredible control that you noticed as soon as she took the stage. Other standout dancers were the Russian pair Gergory DeSantis and Rylan Schwab, who simultaneously performed multiple toe touches in a row that were met with rowdy applause.
Along with the traditional dancing, the show had modern touches. A Russian dancer did the classic hip hop staple the coffee grinder and one of the mice even performed a bit of Gangnam Style. Even the old-fashioned Mother Ginger puppet brought big laughs as she did some fist pumping and a bit of vigorous shimming. It brought a light-hearted feel among the grandiose show.
The blatant star of the show busted out among the flowers – the dew drop played by Asuka Sasaki. She was everything a ballerina should be – light, fluid and gentle. You could see her passion for dance when it seemed like she wasn’t on stage at all, just dancing for her own pure joy. Her presence commanded attention every time she was on stage, and I would miss her every time she left.
The show ended with Clara back at home waking up with her Nutcracker wondering if it was all a dream. This fairytale ending was the perfect way to tie up the show leaving the audience with a glimmer of magic and childhood amazement.
“The Nutcracker” plays now through December 24 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. For a 20 percent student discount visit http://tickets.coloradoballet.org/single/EventListing.aspx?promo=1108 or enter promo code STUDENT at http://tickets.coloradoballet.org/single/EventListing.aspx.
Contact CU Independent Editor-In-Chief Amanda Moutinho at Amanda.email@example.com.
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