A holiday tradition
Just as putting up the Douglas Fir tree and wrapping it with lights is a sign of the season, so are sugar plum fairies, dancing snowflakes and, of course, nutcrackers.
The Nutcracker ballet has become as much of the Triad’s holiday tradition as the lighting of the Christmas tree on First Friday, or a visit to Tanglewood Park’s Festival of Lights.
As the Stahlbaum family celebrates Christmas Eve in this beautiful ballet, sweet Clara watches on as her godfather, a local councilman and magician, presents a magical show of lively toys. She immediately takes a liking to the Nutcracker, and later that night, after the magical show is over, she finds herself on a journey, touring through The Land of Sweets and witnessing a great battle between gingerbread soldiers and the Mouse King.
Because this performance is such a treasured tradition, there are actually a few productions of it in the area this year, but each one is unique, offering a different experience.
HIGH POINT BALLET
The High Point Ballet is attempting to bring the spirit of a “White Christmas” to the area with its production of the tradition. “Each year, returning to perform The Nutcracker, it’s like opening up a box filled with treasured holiday ornaments and being flooded with memories of the past and waiting for new memories to be made,” said Rita Taylor, executive director of High Point Ballet, about why the group is performing the classic.
“It’s like any wonderful holiday tradition. The beautiful and memorable music fills the ears and the heart as time-honored moments are preserved and cherished and waiting for the new season’s renderings.”
So what sets their production apart from the rest? For starters, the ballet’s set was designed by the brilliant Howard C. Jones, which you might recognize from the set of Triad Stage’s Snow Queen and many other plays.
“Jones has created a masterpiece that is both beautiful, fanciful and truly a vision of sugar plums dancing in your head,” said Taylor.
Taylor added that the costumes are luxurious, too. “The handmade costumes are both classic period pieces that shimmer and sparkle with every movement and turn and are sure to delight. The costumes and sets create a colorful and visual story that will delight audiences.”
Another unique angle to this production is that our own local Gary Taylor developed the choreography.
Performances run Dec. 12-13 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Edward C Smith Civic Center, 217 S Main St., Lexington. For tickets or more information, call 887-3001, or visit highpointballet.org. Tickets are $27 general admission, $22 for seniors and students.
The Greensboro Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker will certainly stand on its own thanks to its collaboration with the Greensboro Symphony, which will play live during the ballet.
It’s the extra wintery fun that sets this production from the rest, too, including a special “Tea with Clara” pre-performance event on Saturday. Participants will not only dine on tea and sweets in the Land of Snow scenery, but they’ll also make a craft, learn one of Clara’s dances, and meet the “live” dolls and international guests of Clara’s Christmas Eve party.
Greensboro Ballet and the Greensboro Symphony perform The Nutcracker at the Carolina Theater, 310 S. Greene St., Friday through Sunday. Tickets are $16-$48. For tickets and more information call 333-2605 or visit carolinatheatre.com. The symphony will not be performing on Sunday.
UNC SCHOOL OF THE ARTS UNCSA’s
School of Dance always does a wonderful job with the classic ballet, and always has surprise professional guests who add to its sense of elegance and wonder. This year’s acclaimed guest dancers are Whitney Jensen, born in Utah, and Yury Yanowsky, born in France.
Accompanying the dancers is the UNCSA Orchestra to help bring the performance to life, outlining the smooth, elegant moves with bold sound. The set and costumes are always detailed, too, and compliment the movements with a sense of magic.
As a side note, this year’s Sugar Plum Fairy is Sierra Armstrong, a 10th-grade UNCSA Dance student who was chosen to compete in the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland, an international competition for dancers aged 15 to 19 who are not yet professionals. !
UNC School of the Arts performs the ballet at the Stevens Center, 405 4 th St., Winston-Salem, Friday through Dec. 21. Tickets are $24-$83. For tickets and more information visit uncsaevents.com.