Fresh choreography and a new troupe of dancers sparkles the expected story and the usual Butler Ballet stage settings for the first of the half dozen greater Indianapolis Nutcrackers being presented this holiday season.
Derek Reid's opening scenes vividly set the stage for "The Main Event" - Clara's eye-popping dream. Reid, along with Susan McGuire's boisterous battle between the mice and the toy nutcracker, makes the most of character acting and pantomime in ballet, keeping the stage alive with interactions and relationships on the sidelines while allowing us to enjoy quick solo turns for dancing that's filled with true-to-life incidents. These provide the gateway to the focused wonderment of solo, duet and corps dancing.
A Butler Ballet quality is artfully matching choreography to the technique and stamina levels of the students. Everyone looks good. Cynthia Pratt, Tom Wang and Michelle Jarvis give lightness to the entry "Into the Kingdom of Snow" and "Kingdom of Sweets." Mark Cholewa, Wang and Jarvis add a pinch of humor to character dancing for the Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Russian, Mirlitons and Mother Ginger and the Polichinelles. Stephan Laurent centered "Waltz of the Flowers" on sweeping corps dips and bends - a realistic corps gracefulness leading to Cholewa's Grand Pas de Deux showcasing virtuosity of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince Nutcracker. The Waltz Finale and Apotheosis bring together all the elements of the dream for Clara's safe return. Bud Kerwin's kind-hearted, yet mysterious Drosselmeyer imbued the whole production with a lighter nuance than usually attributed to the character, and thus the story.
Larry A. Attaway, executive director; music by Tchaikovsky; Butler Symphony Orchestra and members of the Indianapolis Children's Choir conducted by Richard Auldon Clark; choreography by Butler Ballet faculty.