Like it or hate it, the holiday season is undeniably upon us. A walk down Main Street offers proof of this: bright lights wrap themselves gracefully around trees, Christmas carols ring from inviting Kerrytown shops and couples walk hand-in-hand with a seemingly newfound sense of happiness.
If you’re like me and love the spontaneous comradery that springs up during this time of year, or just need a way to escape the mounting stress of finals, you’re in luck. The classic holiday special “The Nutcracker” will make a reappearance this Saturday at the Michigan Theater.
This performance of “The Nutcracker” is presented by the Academy of Russian Classical Ballet, based in Wixom, Michigan. The Academy is made up of talented ballet students from Michigan and Ohio who learn the traditional Vaganova (Russian) style of classical ballet. The Academy also holds a Professional Trainee Program for students intending to pursue ballet as a profession.
This is the third time the Academy will perform “The Nutcracker” at Michigan Theater, and they intend to keep the performance as close to the Russian Bolshoi Ballet Company’s rendition as possible.
As a way to follow the original ballet, this particular rendition doesn’t “have a specific wooden Nutcracker doll. We have a younger dancer who performs the role,” said co-director of the Academy Jessica Morschakov in an interview with the Daily.
The dancers are excited that their version of “The Nutcracker” stands out from other modern interpretations. “For the Spanish (corps), it’s really interesting to do the original choreography rather than something newer,” said Nina Schotland, a dancer in the Spanish dance sequence. Schotland, an LSA freshman, performs in the Waltz of the Flowers and in the Spanish corps as a soloist, in addition to other roles.
Professional ballet dancers from Moscow Ballet in Russia will join the cast of local ballet students on Saturday. “Our young Clara and young Nutcracker are Michigan students,” Morschakov said. After Clara, the main child protagonist of the play, enters her dreamland, the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince. The Russian professionals will perform “the grown-up version of Clara and the Prince.”
Tchaikovsky’s score for “The Nutcracker” is timeless, even for the dancers who’ve performed it many times before. “I listen to it a lot. I wake up to it,” said Luke Eller. Eller will play the role of the Fritz, Clara’s mean brother and the Nutcracker in the first act, among others.
The Oakland Homeschool Choir, a local children’s choir that gives homeschooled children a chance to participate in musical education, will provide live music as per the original. “The music of Tchaikovsky … was written with the Children’s Choir of St. Petersburg singing during the Snow scene,” Morschakov said. They aim to parallel this effect with the Oakland Homeschool Choir.
“To let people enjoy the beauty and artistry of classical ballet is a really unique experience,” Schotland said. The performance boasts beautiful backdrops, intricate hand-sewn costumes and a mystical ambiance combined with that of the Michigan Theater.
The passion of the Academy is sure to whisk the audience away to a wonderful winter dreamland. Saturday’s performance of “The Nutcracker” promises to add a magical touch to the holiday season.