The Apache Pow Wow

The Nutcracker

Margaret Lin, Staff Writer

From Dec. 9 to 10, the Los Angeles Ballet (LAB) will present its annual production of The Nutcracker at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. Choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the two-act ballet was first premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on Dec. 18, 1892. Although the original production of The Nutcracker wasn’t successful, Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his greatest compositions. Today, The Nutcracker enjoys enormous popularity in North America during the Christmas season, generating as much as 40% of a ballet company’s annual ticket revenues. Watching The Nutcracker has become a classic Christmas tradition, and is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season with family.

Petipa based the storyline of his ballet on Alexandre Dumas’ adapted story of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. The story is centered around Clara (originally Marie) Stahlbaum and her toy Nutcracker. It’s Christmas Eve, and family and friends have gathered for a party at the Stahlbaum home. When the clock strikes eight, the mysterious Drosselmeyer, a magician, toymaker, and Clara’s godfather, appears. He presents gifts to the children, giving Clara the best gift: the Nutcracker. However, her brother, Fritz, breaks it. When Clara returns to check on it in the middle of the night, she magically shrinks and becomes caught up in a battle between an army of gingerbread soldiers and mice. The Nutcracker comes to life and defeats the Mouse King, forcing the mice to retreat.

The Nutcracker transforms into a human prince and leads Clara through a forest to his kingdom. They travel to the Land of Sweets, which is ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Prince’s absence. In celebration, sweets from around the world dance for their amusement. The Sugar Plum Fairy also performs a dance with her Cavalier. All of the sweets perform a final waltz, after which Clara and the Prince are led to a reindeer-drawn sleigh. The story ends with the sleigh taking off and the subjects bidding them farewell.

The LAB debuted in 2006 with an original production of The Nutcracker. Choreographed by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, The Nutcrackertakes place in 1912 Los Angeles. The production features costumes from the Royal Danish Ballet commissioned by Christensen during his tenure as that company’s artistic director. The Southern California-themed set was designed by Catherine Kanner, who has won numerous illustration and design awards. In addition to performing classic ballet standards such as Don Quixote, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty, the LAB has also commissioned 15 new works in an effort to “identify and nurture Southern Californian choreographic talent.” The LAB regularly performs at Alex Theatre, UCLA’s Royce Hall, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, and the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Be sure to catch the LAB’s production of The Nutcracker this year! For more information, check out their website at losangelesballet.org/ 

Photo courtesy of INFOTEL.COM

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