Overview | Christmas whirls into city with Kansas Metropolis Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’


Poor Thanksgiving, overshadowed by Christmas earlier than the turkey’s even within the oven. It has turn into a brand new custom. No less than on the Kennedy Heart, the place “The Nutcracker”— carried out this yr by the Kansas Metropolis Ballet — opened Wednesday night time with a energetic snowstorm of satin and tulle, together with smart-stepping Marzipan, a towering Mom Ginger and all of the trimmings.

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The Nutcracker” has all the time been a child-friendly ballet, however this manufacturing is particularly geared to kids. There are fantastic comedian touches galore, and quick-thinking toys and intelligent animal characters seize the highlight. A potbellied, roly-poly teddy bear, grown to gargantuan dimension, is equal components fierce and lovable. He’s the star of the Silberhaus household’s Christmas Eve celebration in Act I. Dr. Drosselmeier, the doll maker who created him, and whose different enchanted items ignite the ballet’s fantastical journey, is given to whizzing about in midair, his black cape winging him into flight.

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The ballet’s many youngster performers freely steal the present. There are bouncy, excitable little partygoers in Act I, after all, and the diminutive dolls who spring to life at midnight because the Silberhaus parlor is magicked right into a battlefield. The tin troopers deploy an particularly nimble battle technique to crush an invasion of mice. What collective may (and dynamic choreography) it takes to face sturdy in opposition to their endearingly fluffed-up enemies, who pressed forth bravely — hopelessly — shouldering damaged forks and fountain pens!

Drawing inspiration from the Rockettes, this “Nutcracker” additionally options reindeer, prancing fetchingly via the Kingdom of the Snow in antlers and glossy, leggy bodysuits. An enormous hot-air balloon festooned with unicorns whisks away the younger protagonist Clara — the buoyant Elise Pickert, a dancer of pretty musical phrasing — and her Nutcracker prince, embodied with polish and élan by firm member Joshua Bodden.

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The Kansas Metropolis Ballet final appeared right here in 2017, when this deeply interesting model of “The Nutcracker,” created by the corporate’s inventive director, Devon Carney, was pretty new. It’s nonetheless contemporary and vivid, with colourful units and props by French painter Alain Vaes: items piled by the tree, snow on the windowpanes, and in Act II, a sugary wonderland the place peppermint-stick colonnades overlook a backyard of gumdrops. Veteran costume designer Holly Hynes devised the Victorian apparel in tastefully subdued hues that don’t compete with the units. A most essential contact: The lavish robes and little-girl frocks look much more lovely in movement.

The skilled dancers are charming and ready, although bear in mind that general, this firm isn’t fairly the caliber usually offered by the Kennedy Heart on its ballet subscription sequence. The Kansas Metropolis Ballet is a comparatively small troupe, round 30 dancers and apprentices. Its “Nutcracker” roster contains its second firm, KCB II, trainees and plenty of younger ballet college students.

As a sign of the place the corporate stands by way of technical strengths, it employs a member of Pacific Northwest Ballet — visitor artist James Kirby Rogers — because the Cavalier to Kaleena Burks’s winsome Sugar Plum Fairy. This can be a sensible transfer. Rogers’s excessive classical brilliance and regal bearing lends appreciable star energy to the ballet’s closing moments.

Kansas Metropolis Ballet music director Ramona Pansegrau led the Opera Home Orchestra in one of many chief pleasures of any “Nutcracker” carried out on the Kennedy Heart: the incomparable Tchaikovsky rating, carried out stay.

The Nutcracker by the Kansas Metropolis Ballet performs via Nov. 27 on the Kennedy Heart Opera Home. $49-$189. www.kennedy-center.org.

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