Conceived in 1816 by E.T.A. Hoffman, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” was a story not intended for children. After all, the initial resolve was to show the not-so kind side of mankind… then again, think about how life without Twitter would be. Recognizing a Divine inspiration, and after 76 years in print, Tchaikovsky produced music for a grand opening ballet performance on December 18th, 1892. Enough of the history, let’s race to December 15, 2011 and the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre where magic came to life.
Nearly 119 years from the original performance, the Orlando Ballet exhibited a high level of dedication and skill as performers danced to an audience delighted by the wide vision and creative application of Artistic Director Robert Hill. Placing an interesting twist, this weekend’s production introduces over 130 children into the acts. Though much praise can be said of each scene and dancer, let’s keep to the highlights.
Clara was represented flawlessly by Briana Berrios, a young and talented star in her own right. As the main character guiding the storyline, Clara was not-so quietly upstaged by a remarkably talented supporting staff. Which makes me wonder who was supporting whom?
As the story began to unfold, Clara received a toy nutcracker on Christmas Eve from her Uncle Dosseimeyer, detailed to precision by Douglas Horne. In a fit of jealous rivalry, Clara’s brother broke the gift during a tussle. From here the power of imagination and dreams morphs into an enchanted story for all to enjoy.
Sustained by oversized props blasting vibrancy and color, the stage carried attention tirelessly without distraction as a hefty crowd delivered approval by way of applause. As Act I progressed, I could not notice the lack of cadenced steps as Robert Hill constrained his ballet dancers, teasing those in attendance who were begging for action.
By the end of act II, most of the children left the stage as a beautiful snow queen, pirouetted by Rosalinda Moeller, mesmerized all with her eloquence and supporting snowflakes. As the final snowflake fell, I was sold.
As opposed to Act I, Act II was dominated by mature dance, beauty, and magnitude. No doubt the mischievousness imposed by Robert Hill was allowed release for the better part of 30 minutes, exploding passion with every twirl, move, and engagement.
For those seeking to begin (or reinforce) a new family holiday tradition, Orlando Ballet may be your best bet.
Feeling overwhelmed and ready for rest, the following shout-outs are in order:
* Robert Hill for his creative wisdom and impeccable splash of humor
* Andrea Harvey who’s animated doll scene transfixed our devotion
* The Russian Dancers, Stefan Grigore Drach, Dylan Santos, Balazs Krajczar, and Telmo Moreira, your devotion to detail raised the bar
* The Dew Drop Fairy, Katia Garza, your seamless splendor entranced my soul
Orlando is fortunate to have such a great team in our midst. Each player is amazing. Each performance delivers. Thank you Orlando Ballet, we BELIEVE in you… please don’t go.
Feeling the spirit of the holidays, I am