With the holiday season upon us, families near and far are celebrating the sights and sounds in a wide variety of ways — from time-honored traditions to new and exciting activities.
While my own family has already participated in fun and festive events of all kinds, I was recently also able to experience one show that has delighted audiences from coast to coast with its incredible artistry, costumes, performance, puppetry, music and more: Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker!
The company of almost 40 dancers is the only internationally touring ballet group to perform to critical acclaim in over 75 North American cities annually. The renowned, award-winning principal dancers and corps de ballet thrill audiences with their expertise, dramatic expression and stunning leaps, turns and drops... and I, for one, was excited to see this fantastic show for myself!
Once inside the beautiful and historical Orpheum Theater in downtown Madison, WI, it didn't take long before we were shown to our seats to eagerly await the opening curtain.
I'll admit to being vaguely familiar with this story (the Nutcracker comes to life, what more did I need to know?) and soon found myself completely drawn in by the beauty and grace of the performers. I can only imagine the number of years and endless hours of practice that they have put in to be able to dance and soar across the stage as they did!
As for the show itself, the Great Russian Nutcracker opens with eccentric Uncle Drosselmeyer preparing the magical toys he will bring to Mayor Stalhbaum's Christmas Eve party. When he arrives the party is underway with adults and children full of merriment and joy.
As flash photography was not allowed, my photos are not the highest quality. Moscow Ballet has a beautiful gallery if you would like to see closer, more professional photographs!
At the party we meet Masha, her brother Fritz, and their friends, who are delighted to find out what presents they will receive. Masha instantly loves her gift of a Nutcracker Doll, but mischievous Fritz accidentally breaks it!
Heartbroken, Masha sleeps and dreams that mice and the Rat King battle with the brave Nutcracker, who defeats them. The Nutcracker Prince and Masha then journey to the Snow Forest and meet folk legends Ded Moroz and Snegurochka, who escort them to the Land of Peace and Harmony.
After a 20 minute intermission, Act II opened with the much-anticipated Dove of Peace (danced by two dancers each with one feathered wing)...
...and a great celebration ensued! Emissaries of Spain, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Russian performed in honor of Masha and the Nutcracker Prince and playful animals joined them to represent gifts for Masha — the bulls offered daring, elephants offered wisdom, lions offered pride, the dragon offered playfulness, the bears offered strength, and the unicorns offered kindness.
These larger than life animal puppets were definitely a highlight of the show, as they were incredibly detailed to look at, while also acting in a bit of a fun and goofy manner. I hadn't realized I would be laughing out loud while at a ballet!
Finally, Masha and the Nutcracker Prince were entertained by the Waltz of the Flowers and then danced a grand Pas de Deux as their gift in return.
Last, to bring the story full circle and to a close, Masha awakens and finds her beloved Nutcracker by her side. A perfect ending to a beautiful tale!
A big of romance, a lot of beauty, incredible costumes, fanciful effects, life-size dolls, shimmering backdrops, and much more... Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker was two hours of amazing talent, gorgeous music, and overall wonderful artistry. The audience was filled with everyone from very young to quite old, and we all left the theater smiling from ear to ear after giving a standing ovation.
If you are looking for a great way to get into spirit of the holiday season (or to start or continue a cherished family tradition), be sure to head over to Nutcracker.com today to see the full schedule of event dates/venues to check for your area.
But why not shop with a discount? Use the promo code JOY to receive the largest discount available (up to $30 off!) so that you can save money while partaking in this wonderful holiday tradition!