Review: Butler Ballet's 'The Nutcracker'

 

The Butler Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Richard Auldon Clark, always brings a spark to Butler Ballet productions. It was especially the case at the Dec. 3 evening performance being reviewed, when the orchestra emphasized Tchaikovsky’s dramatic nuances for each scene, choreographed by Butler dance faculty members.

Fritz dominates Stephan Laurent’s Christmas party scene with pranks and naughty behavior, interrupting joyful dancing, sassing the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, causing the toy Nutcracker to break and frightening his sister Clara and her friends by swinging a dead mouse over their heads. This cue leads into Susan McQuire’s chaotic Battle scene between a now life-size Nutcracker and larger than life Mouse Queen.

In her dream Clara triumphs and floats into Cynthia Pratt’s sparkling Kingdom of Snow, where her bravery in saving the Nutcracker is rewarded by the Snow Queen and King. Derek Reid choreographs Adult Angels and two Little Angels as a bridgeway into the Kingdom of Sweets ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy who welcomes Clara and gives her a seat of honor.

Michelle Jarvis choreographs a swirling smorgasbord of color and activity leading into cultural and ethnic entertainments including a fast-paced Spanish Dance (Marek Cholewa), sensuous Arabian, whimsical Chinese and spinning Mirlitons (Derek Reid), athletic Russian and playful Mother Ginger and the Polichinelles (Michael Johnson). With the Dew Drop Fairy leading the Waltz of the Flowers, swaying with Jarvis’ cacophony of pastels and Cholewa’s Grand Pas de Deux, Clara is in the wind down of her dream, leaving the audience with a sense of wonderment.

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