This winter season, Dallas area theaters will be host to an endless parade of professional and pre-professional productions of the classic Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker is the story of a young girl and her magical Nutcracker doll embarking on a thrilling adventure to a land filled with dancing toys mischievous mice, waltzing flowers, sparkling snowflakes and a beautiful sugar plumb fairy. The ballet is set to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite, a timeless, easily recognizable score heard in shopping malls, office buildings, elevators, airports and just about any public place during the Winter holiday season. It is also a production, as we wrote in 2011, that can make or break a ballet company.
In 2010 we compiled a general overview of each of the upcoming local productions of Nutcracker. Many of the traditions remain unchanged, however there are a few local companies that have added and adjusted their productions with new dancers, sets, costumes, and even a Las Vegas flying team.
Based in Fort Worth, Texas Ballet Theater will perform their Nutcracker at home in Bass Hall and in Dallas at the Winspear Opera House. The TBT performance is the only professional ballet company in North Texas, and it is just one of three professional ballet companies in Texas. Choreographed by world-renowned artistic director, Ben Stevenson, O.B.E., last year TBT acquired a million dollar production including new costumes and scenery along with some changes to choreography. The new version is much more elaborate than the previous production, and it includes a flying angel, flying carpet and other fun “magic” created by the “Flying by Foy” troupe out of Las Vegas.
Based in Plano, Chamberlain Ballet has delighted audiences for two decades with its annual Nutcracker performances. For the production, Kathy Chamberlain brings in celebrated principal dancers from New York City Ballet. In addition, this production features pre-professional young dancers, respectable choreography, spectacular costumes, and dynamic stage lighting. Chamberlain also partners with WFAA-TV Santa’s Helpers Toy Drive again this year. Each patron is encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped gift or toy to each Nutcracker performance they attend.
Based in Richardson, Tanju Tuzer packs a lot of dancing into the first half of the ballet, which is a nice change from productions that spend most of their time plodding through the story. In addition there are wonderful moments of unexpected humor throughout act one. The larger ensemble pieces, kingdom of the snow and waltz of the flowers, are somewhat under choreographed, however. Those weaknesses aside, this is a Nutcracker that leaves you warm and fuzzy, with lots of holiday good cheer.
Ballet Frontier casts The Nutcracker through open auditions and is different from many ballet companies because of the extensive involvement of pre-professional youth dancers. Many local youth dancers are featured in lead roles. This year Ballet Frontier embarked on a collaboration with artists from Dallas Black Dance Theatre, including Christopher McKenzie, Derrick Smith and Jamie Thompson, and continued their tradition of including several guest dancers from Texas Ballet Theater. New to this year’s set: a “growing” Christmas tree backdrop created by Anne Jones, our Set Designer.
This marks the 27th year for Dallas Ballet .Company’s production of The Nutcracker. Each year something new is added or changed to this pre-professional ensemble who typically perform to sold out houses at the Granville Performing Arts Center.
Based in Frisco, Collin County Ballet Theater has been presenting The Nutcracker under the collaborative directorship of Kirt and Linda Hathaway for many years. Collin County Ballet Theater is one of the few local productions that feature live orchestra.
Lake Cities Ballet (Sigler Auditorium, Nov 30 – Dec 1; Little Elm Recreation Center Dec 13-14) $20-$45
Lake Cities features lavish costumes, set design, and the rare opportunity to hear a Nutcracker in North Texas that features a live orchestra, the Lewisville Lake Symphony led by Maestro Adron Ming. Special guest artist Julie Kent joins the production from the American Ballet Theatre.
Dallas Youth Ballet (City Performance Hall, Dec 7)
Ballet Ensemble of Texas (Irving Arts Center, Dec 7-8)
Dallas Repertoire Ballet (Eismann Center, Dec 13-15)
Allen Civic Ballet (Allen High School, Dec 21-22)