THE HOLIDAYS begin with the Stahlbaums' annual Christmas party...children hungry for presents, too much champagne and a kooky uncle who makes enchanted toys.
The whimsical world of E.T.A. Hoffman's The Nutcracker helps to take us on the journey with Clara Stahlbaum, a bubbly little girl whose parents are having a party on Christmas Eve.
For the evening of the sold out performance, the audience is joined together by the power of Tchaikovsky’s score, taking us back to 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kelly Lannin brings LakeCities Ballet Theatre to an outstanding professional level that is quite impressive for this little town of Lewisville, Texas. Lannin is a natural storyteller, taking the audience in scene by scene. This is LBT's 30th anniversary.
The Lewisville Lake Symphony lead by Adron Ming, brought The Nutcracker to life with LIVE MUSIC! There was even a harmonic section of the snow scene sung by a choir...goose bumps!
Herr Drosselmeier has once again shown up with his puppetry and magic tricks. Children in the audience sat still in their seats to see what was in the magical box…his wind-up Ballerina Doll, Ali Honchell, who danced sharp and snappy like a deconstructed ballerina.
A nutcracker doll is given to Clara by Drosselmeier, her mysterious uncle (played by the effervescent Kenn Wells). The luminous young Clara (Carley Denton) looked girlish and giddy as she ran and leapt with delight.
My son laughed and laughed at Clara's brother, Fritz (Nathan Bowen) galloping up and down with excitement...I think he could relate (wanting to play with his big sister's toy, and then accidently breaking it)!
The clock chimes and it's time for the guests to go, As soon as the house is quite in the Stahlbaum house, the mice creep out looking for cheese (more laughter).
During the battle scene, The Mouse King (Robert Stewart) gave a hilarious performance of his death, wanting to make sure he perished on the sofa (again my son cracked up).
The audience takes a journey through the snow guided by angels (one of them is my own). It's an "angel secret" how the angels appear to be floating across the stage...truly magical, truly angelic.
Amanda Evans sparkled as the Snow Queen. As the music developed, so did her dancing.
Clara arrives in "The Kingdom of Sweets" and we see the Russian Baba flying high, Chinese Tea dance delicate and dainty, Spanish Chocolate battement big but it was Arabian Coffee that took my breath away. The Arabian duet was one of many standout performances. Faith Jones showed her amazing balance and crazy extensions. Shannon Beacham supported her with power and intensity.
The excitement built when Julie Kent, Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theater and Sascha Radetsky, Soloist with ABT graced the stage for their pas de deux.
All eyes were fixed on the beautiful Julie Kent who executed her variations with a sweetness and warmth. Kent has a gift to take a role and become that person. Julie Kent WAS the Sugar Plum Fairy. I am sad to know that after fifteen years, this was her final performance as Sugar Plum Fairy with LakeCities Ballet Theatre.
The Nutcracker is often the first ballet people see and introduces children to the dance world. For the dancers, it's a path through one role after another marking the passage of time in a dancers' life. Backstage, I heard the dancers talking, "I remember when I was an angel."
It's ritual-like but the repetition year after year doesn't tire...it becomes more beautiful, and that is the power of the Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.
It's really one of the happiest times in the year. Families and friends come together to watch The Nutcracker. It's especially special if they’ve come to watch a certain dancer. I had my two favorite dancers performing on the same stage, Julie Kent and my daughter.
Julie Kent said in an interview, "We all can be excellent in what we do. Art in particular helps to distill because the pursuit is really pure and noble."
Above Photos: Nancy Loch Photography