Tulsa Ballet opened its own The Nutcracker, choreographed by Artistic Director Marcello Angelini, Sat., Dec. 16 at 2pm.
The work is the one that premiered Dec. 12, 2003, to national acclaim. If you'd like a primer course in why the TB is considered one of the best in the world, see its The Nutcracker. Its story is timeless, but with Angelini's choreography, the dance is fresh, new and original.
"I wanted to take our audience on an imaginary trip to a far away place, a place of glamour in a time of glamour, comparable to a Broadway show," Angelini said, and he succeeds.
The ballet is captivating, beautiful, elegant and seemingly effortless despite the elaborate choreography--and, at the same time, humorous and fun to watch. Angelini's choreography closely follows E.T.A. Hoffman's original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The score, familiar even to those who might not know of its origin, is composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The ballet opens in a studio in the Opera Garnier, or Opera de Paris, on Christmas Eve during the last ballet rehearsal before the holiday. Charles Drosselmeier, danced by Principal Alfonso Martin, and his partner, Soloist Ashley Blade-Martin, are rehearsing under the watchful eye of Charles' uncle and the Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet, Mr. Christian Ellis Drosselmeier (Sarkis Kaltakchian).
The Ballet students slowly enter the studio, captivated by the precision of the two professional dancers. Among them is Marie, danced by Jenna McCoy, a talented young student who finds a pair of Charles' partner's pointe shoes. While the Ballet Mistress (Georgia Snoke) is discussing a tempo problem with the pianist (a delightful Joshua Trader who walks with a humorous gait and has a difficult time hiding his unrequited affection for the Mistress), Marie puts the shoes on and shows off for her classmates.
Rather than chastise Marie, the Mistress applauds her and announces that she is now ready to dance en pointe.
The second scene is a holiday party in the foyer of the Opera Garnier. Drosselmeier announces the Paris Opera Ballet will premiere The Nutcracker, and Charles and his partner demonstrate the plot: the evil Mouse King (the excellent Ma Cong) has turned a handsome young man into a wooden Nutcracker doll. The spell will be broken if the Nutcracker defeats the Mouse King in battle and if a young woman will promise to love him despite his appearance. If the spell is broken, the young man will become a prince.
Drosselmeier notices Marie's fascination with the story and gives her the Nutcracker doll. As evening arrives and the guests begin to leave, Marie falls asleep in a chair, dreaming of the Nutcracker story.
When she wakes, she is alone in the foyer. A mouse enters the room, followed by more mice, danced by Serena Chu, Jennifer DeWolfe, Megan Keough and Rene Olivier and a number of children. Marie tries to protect her Nutcracker doll; the mice capture it, but all at once her doll comes to life (danced by Michael Eaton) and along with an army of nutcracker soldiers (danced by Nathan McGinnis, Avichai Scher, Joshua Trader and members of the children's cast) the nutcracker army defeat the mice soldiers in one of ballet's most memorable scenes.
Marie attempts to save the Nutcracker when he is near defeat by hitting the Mouse King with her shoe, proving her unconditional love for him and transforming them both. She becomes a grown woman, danced by Demi-soloist Karina Gonzalez, and he is Charles Drosselmeier, with whom Marie has dreamed of dancing.
Charles and Marie then dance in the famous snow scene, accompanied by the company as snowflakes.
The second act begins with Charles and Marie's arrival to the castle, where they are expected to announce their engagement.
Inside, dancers from various countries have come to celebrate Charles and Marie's engagement by presenting them with dances from their homeland.
The crowd favorites were Rene Olivier, Rupert Edwards, Ilan Kav and Nathan McGinnis as they danced the Arabian dance and, of course, Ma Cong in the Russian dance. Cong's beautiful jumps and leaps were exceptional as is expected of him.
Alexandra Bergman, Serena Chu, Michael Eaton and Ricardo Graziano were lovely in the Spanish dance, and Joshua Trader and Mugen Kazama entertained with the Chinese dance.
Martin and Gonzalez then dance a beautiful duet as Marie's dream comes to a close.
Her parents wake her, and as they begin to leave with Marie recalling her dream for her parents, Charles enters the stage, returning to retrieve a forgotten scarf. As he turns to leave, he and Marie exchange a long glance, and the audience wonders, was it really a dream?
This is a great ballet, and I love Angelini's version of it. The dancers of the Tulsa Ballet do this The Nutcracker justice--they lead their audience from Chapman Music Hall and into another world, and at the end, you don't want to leave.
Paired with the dancing and making the experience complete are the costumes designed Luisa Spinatelli and sets painted by Paolini Libralato.
If you've seen The Nutcracker, and even if you've seen Angelini's version of it, you know it's something you can see over and over again and still the magic is never worn out. It's a holiday must in Tulsa.
If you've never seen The Nutcracker or the Tulsa Ballet, now is the time. This is the show. This ballet provides new generations and ballet novices the opportunity to get to know and fall in love with ballet as Tulsa's Ballet practices it.
Final perforamcnes are Thurs., Dec. 21 through Sun., Dec. 24 at the Chapman Music Hall inside the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 2nd and Cincinnati. Performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday begin at 7pm. There is also a 2pm performance on Saturday, and Sunday's show starts at 1pm. Tickets are $15 to $55.
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