Christmas is gifts, snow, imagination, music and magic for kids. A Christmas tradition that incorporates all these is the Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
The opening night for The Nutcracker in Kansas City was truly magic. The elaborate sets and costumes, fresh choreography, and graceful and energetic dancers produced a feeling that the entire world was at peace!
The Kansas City Symphony performs Tchaikovsky’s well known score. In addition to the unforgettable ballet, the anticipation in the lobby before the performance is a sight to see. There’s magic everywhere. Little girls sip hot chocolate accessorized with the sparkling bows. Preschoolers in fancy holiday dresses twirl and twirl in the lobby. Millennial men are spiffed up in the most distinctive, festive Christmas suites reflecting the holiday spirit. I would love to know where they found them!
November 30-December 23, 2018
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Choreography: Devon Carney
Music: Peter I. Tchaikovsky performed by Kansas City Symphony
The Kansas City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is stunning. The Ballet premiered an original $2 million production in 2015. The bright and colorful world class production also revealed Artistic Director Devon Carney’s unforgettable choreography. It was applauded in Kansas City, but noticed elsewhere. In 2017, The Nutcracker was asked to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. The Kennedy Center invites one outstanding ballet company to perform their version of the ballet. It received rave reviews.
The production does not stray far from the original story, but is has it’s unique touches. The Kansas City Ballet’s production is fast moving and young children are consistently engaged. There are no ordinary mice, but mice with attitude! The dancing Snowflakes dance…in snow! The audience feels the Sugar Plum Fairy’s lightness of movement.
The Nutcracker tells the story of the Silberhaus family welcoming guests at an annual Christmas party. A gift is given to a young girl of a Nutcracker. In a dream, the gift becomes The Nutcracker Prince and defeats a Mouse King. Later the young girl is whisked away to a magical kingdom that includes dancers from various lands and its treats. During the performance, you meet the Snow Queen, Snow King, Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, Mother Ginger, and others.
One outstanding performance was the Arabian dance which evoked a gasp from the audience.
In 1816, E.T.A. Hoffman published The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, a dark fairy-tale intended only for adults. Years later, The Nutcracker premiered on December 17, 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia with a happier tone and for children. Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky was commissioned to write the music. At its premiere, The Nutcracker was considered a failure by all. Tschaikovsky died less than a year later, not knowing what success the ballet would become.
Today, The Nutcracker is a “bread and butter” production for large and small ballet companies. It also allows younger performers to participate. In the Kansas City Ballet’s production there are seven alternating casts. Organization is required as there are 212 students from the Kansas City Ballet School performing throughout the production. The young woman beside me had been in 7 productions performing different roles requiring increasing skills. The young woman in front of me was asked by her Dad at the intermission, “Do you want to dance again?” Her eyes said yes.
A special sensory performance will be December 12 at 6 p.m. The performance will be designed for families and adults with autism spectrum disorder, sensory sensitivities, and special needs. The performance alterations include the level of sound is reduced; house lights will remain half lit; and other accommodations.
The Nutcracker is a tradition for many families in the Christmas season. After seeing the dazzling production, The Nutcracker will become a joyful holiday tradition for the family young and old alike.