Hold onto your Drosselmeyer – that was one impressive ballet bonanza.
Exactly two weeks before Christmas, Elaine and I had the privilege to take in a Sunday matinee showing of The Nutcracker at Kelowna Community Theatre. To be more specific, and to please many of the parents, grandparents, cousins, and siblings attending the sold-out production, the official all-inclusive title was The Canadian School of Ballet (CSB) presents The Nutcracker featuring dancers from Ballet Kelowna.
No Bolshoi. This dance card was packed with Kelowna kids of all ages, sizes, and abilities to glide on their tippy-toes in front of the hometown crowd. It gets better. The CSB had two featured dancers playing the lead role of Clara. One (who performed at our show) was Hannah Zobel, a grade-10 student at Okanagan Mission Secondary School. The other was Kendra Haskett, a grade-11 student at Kelowna Secondary School. A weekend to remember for these young ladies.
Time for me to put all my fairy-tale cards on the table. After being on this planet for 60 years and one day, I had never seen The Nutcracker. That goes double for a ballet. All dancing – no dialogue. Ho ho ho. When strolling into the theatre, I was an open canvas ready to be enlightened with fancy footwork and folklore. Two hours later, I had visions of pirouettes, Snow Queens, and Mouse Kings dancing in my head.
Don’t ask me about specific dance numbers, that ain’t fair. I wouldn’t know a plié from a plea bargain. In my note-taking, I penned that the choreography was highly entertaining, the sets bright and cheerful, and the costumes colorful and crisp. There had to be some serious coin pumped into the skirts, tutus, tights, and props. Can’t get all those on sale at the mall.
What struck me most was the power of the music. Credit to Tchaikovsky. Five minutes into Act I, a very familiar overture of his was pounding through the theatre’s sound system as the performers circled the stage. I couldn’t name that tune – but I’ve heard it a zillion times before. There were more familiar compositions emanating throughout the performance. Shoot, where’s a classical music teacher when you need one?
Act I centered around Clara getting gifted The Nutcracker by her Uncle Drosselmeyer. When her jealous little brother broke the toy during a tussle, the toymaker uncle fixed it and added a magic spell. A few dances later, there were creepy mice and valiant soldiers doing battle with swords. Wasn’t sure what that weirdness was all about? Before intermission, Clara checks on The Nutcracker under the family Christmas tree and magically it turns into a handsome prince.
Act II starts with Clara and the prince being ushered into the Kingdom of Sweets. From there, they sit on a throne-built-for-two as twelve lovely dances are performed for them representing cultures from around the world. My favorites were the Russian Dance, Dance of the Candy Canes, Grande Pas, and Waltz of the Flowers. Somewhere in this mix the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier (prince) cavort together as a duo. They nailed it, just like the rest of the good-posture cast.
Next up, Swan Lake. C’mon, KCT. Bring it in.