The Arts

Toy Soldiers to Fight Second Battle in High Point Ballet’s The Nutcracker


Sometimes ballet can get overlooked by the general public, but not at Christmastime. Thankfully The Nutcracker has torn down that wall with its awe-inspiring choreography that harnesses the magic and wonder of Christmas Eve. If you missed UNC School of the Arts’ final productions last week (or even if you didn’t), you’re in for a repeat treat this week with High Point Ballet’s version of the classic.

“Dance is such an innate part of every culture,” said Artistic Director Gary Taylor. “From our youngest days we see babies bouncing to the beat of the music. If we encourage others to watch this remarkable story and they are able to engage in the visceral experience, I can guarantee that they, too, will have ‘visions of Sugar Plums dancing in their heads.’”

Swirling with heroic toy soldiers, sword-fighting mice, and the dazzling dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the classic Russian ballet couples the choreography of award-winning and local choreographer Gary Taylor with the beautiful set design of award-winning Howard C. Jones, lighting by Craig Stelzenmueller, and original costumes designed by Executive Director-Founder Rita Taylor.

“Each year we bring fresh and new choreography to our Nutcracker,” Gary Taylor added. “The music and story are always the same however each year we change about one third of the shows. This keeps things challenging for the dancers and for our families and friends that come back year after year as a part of their holiday tradition. New costumes, new dancers and new choreography keep audiences interested and entertained.”

Gary Taylor says he’s always been drawn to the classic because of his love for Tchaikovsky’s musical score, and one of his favorite scenes to choreograph is the Land of the Sweets.

“For the dancers, this is some of the most challenging choreography in the production. I like challenging myself to create new choreography to the same music. Even for me it keeps The Nutcracker at its best, always fresh and full of holiday energy and cheer.”

Besides mastering the complex choreography of one of the most renowned holiday classics, The High Point Ballet has created a beautiful and magical set to offset the magical story.

Designed by the renowned set designer Howard C. Jones, who has also created many of Triad Stage’s beautiful sets, the scenery is as whimsical as the dancer’s intricate movements, from the giant growing to the glistening Land of the Sweets.

Both the set and costumes come together to create a magical aesthetic for audiences of all ages.

“The costumes are quite elegant and require months of preparations and work,” said Rita Taylor, costume designer. “The costumes are all handmade. They begin as a rendering in a costume notebook and eventually become a reality. They are individual works of art. Christine Fowle is the designer that translates the vision of artistic director into a reality. Costumes are the icing on the cake in taking us on this magical journey.”

Overall, the production both upholds the timeless tradition and upmost respect for the centuries-old classic, while giving it a fresh perspective. The High Point Ballet’s production is also known for being a wonderful family affair, especially with its special one-time presentation of the Land of the Sweets, in which younger audience members get a deeper interaction with the magical world and all of its characters.

Wanna go? High Point Ballet performs The Nutcracker Wednesday through Friday at the High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave., High Point. A special presentation of the Land of the Sweets, geared specifically for younger audience members, is Friday at 2 p.m.