There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with a performance of The Nutcracker.
This weekend, the famed ballet returns to Pikes Peak Center in a collaboration between the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Oklahoma City Ballet and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale.
The classical ballet is a blend of glorious music, sumptuous costumes and delightful staging that appeals to all ages. Well-known characters include Clara, whose imagination is sparked by the gift of a handcrafted wooden nutcracker; the evil mouse king; the elegant sugar fairy and her cavalier; and the handsome prince who eventually transforms from the humble Nutcracker.
Many artists take part in the opulent production. Forty-three dancers from OKC Ballet make up four different line-ups for the five performances in Colorado Springs. They arrived last weekend to start rehearsals and acclimate to the altitude. They were accompanied by a trailer full of costumes, wonderful backdrops and props to bring the story to life.
“They love the opportunity to travel to Colorado Springs and perform in front of an audience there,” said Whitney Cross, OKC Ballet’s director of development and communications. “They love the people, the landscape and have a lot of fun.”
Children are an integral part of ballet. The award-winning Colorado Springs children’s chorale sings during the snow scene at the end of Act I. Fall auditions made way for 52 local children who performed 68 roles in the production. An added touch is a collaboration with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, which offers companion roles to some patients.
OKC Ballet’s newly appointed Artistic Director Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye re-choreographed the ballet this year and added new characters, including the Snow Queen and the King, and a dancer named Dewdrop.
“I will bring a breath of fresh air to this cherished production while sticking to the classic retelling and storytelling,” said Jolicouer-Nye. “My goal is to offer families…an exciting, timeless blend of classical choreography, the most beautiful music performed by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and a heartwarming story.” The new production, he added, “will break away from the cultural Remove stereotypes that typically exist in Act 2.”
“This extravagant ballet has remained the freshest part of the holiday season (while) bringing back memories of Christmases past,” said Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. “The amazing ballet choreography and storyline…take us on an adventure and imaginative journey of a child’s imagination.”