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Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Tis the Season for The Nutcracker

Usually I see one Nutcracker Suite per holiday season.  Sometimes it’s a professional one; sometimes it’s a dance school performance.  Sometimes it’s a TV show.  Usually one Nutcracker is enough, but this year?  This year I saw four glorious Nutcrackers.  It was great! 

The first was the much-beloved Washington Ballet Nutcracker.  We subscribe to the Washington Ballet, and a bonus to renewing your subscription early is two tickets to their Nutcracker.  Last year we didn’t quite know where we'd be living and didn't order in time.  The year before I gave them away, so it had been awhile since I saw their charming historical interpretation.  The show is set in colonial times with George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George as the Rat King.  The mice are slapstick Redcoats.  The harlequin costumes of Mother Ginger’s children are some of my favorite in all theater history.  Mother Ginger herself rolls in atop a carousel much like the one down on the National Mall.  It’s a perfect American Nutcracker perfectly attuned to our nation’s capitol. 

My second Nutcracker was a real treat.  Ballet West traveled to the Kennedy Center.  Their staging is based on the first Nutcracker Suite performed in the US, and it was absolutely charming.  The dancers have extensions that go on forever,  their footwork quick and neat, but the added treat for me was that ten children from my new ballet school -- Skye Ballet Center -- auditioned and got parts.  One young friend performed the role of Clara.  She was good, too! 

A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a coveted present.  No longer available in stores or on the Internet, I have a DVD of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Maurice Sendak version of the Nutcracker.  Sendak’s costuming ad sets are every bit as magical as his book illustrations, and PNB’s interpretation (the glamorous mother in Act I becomes a peacock in Act II making that my all-time favorite solo of all the Nutcrackers I’ve ever seen.  When I see The Waltz of the Snowflakes, I think I’m watching it, well, snow.

The fourth Nutcracker was the Nutcracker recital by Skye Ballet Center.  The children are beautifully taught and danced charmingly.  It’s hard to choose favorites between the senior girl’s lilting Sugar Plum Fairy and the five-year-olds in white crocheted caps tip-toeing across the stage as snow flurries.

Photo: Precious....
SBC Premiere Performance!
Saturday December 15th 
Reston Community Center
1:15PM Free for all!
                Cutest Snow Flurries EVER

Is it possible to see too many Nutcrackers?  Certainly the poor ones are painful.  I wish that cable channel -- the one we don’t subscribe to -- hadn’t monopolized all the glamorous professional ones I used to enjoy on TV.  I guess you can see too many Nutcracker, but I LOVE the Nutcracker Suite.  I love the dancing, the fantasy, the costumes, the music.  I've seen four this year, and I could tuck in one or two more.

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