By Ryan Wallace
It’s an exciting time of year—the holidays are just around the corner, and gifts are lining up around the tree. But the most important gift Southern California may get this Christmas comes courtesy of the ABT. Starting this December the American Ballet Theatre announced annual engagements of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker ballet. And this week, as the American Ballet Theatre takes over the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, families and friends will have the unique opportunity of not only seeing the show, but joining in on all of the fun too.
On Christmas Eve, dreams and imagination bring to life a classical ballet, set to the music of Tchaikovsky. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the Nutcracker blends comical whimsy, a charming prince and princess, and character dances from all over the world to amass a dreamworld rich enough for any child’s imagination and technical enough for adult audiences alike. The sounds, the scenes and the characters, now so embedded in our cultural history, seem familiar like faint memories from Christmas’ past. But it’s the performances of the ABT that will give life to the music and to the scenes, as they transform a young girl’s dream into reality.
In the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the stage is filled with dancers representative from cultures all over the world. Everything is technical perfection, the company flowing like clockwork from one dance into another, and the bright lights on the stage kept me immersed in the scene. But it wasn’t until the Prince (played by Marcelo Gomes) and the Princess (played by Gillian Murphy) took to the stage that I truly found a scene I could only conceive in my dreams. When it comes to male leads, Gomes is everything that we want in a prince—graceful, chivalrous, and the perfect companion to Murphy’s princess. And together, their Pas de Deux and solo performances help make the show.
But it’s not just the ABT dancers that impressed us in the debut show—other little dancers on the stage also brought quite a bit of pride amongst the crowd. From the mice, who add comical relief to the story, down to the littlest of children scurrying about on Christmas Eve, the young dancers cast to be in this season’s show we some of So Cal’s very own. In partnership with the new ABT William J. Gillispie School at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, some fresh talent was brought onto the stage to help fill iconic roles. And to watch how the company nurtures these kids is and experience in itself—seeing the dancers bringing a family, much like the Nutcracker, to life.
With 7 more shows left this week before closing curtain on the 20th of December, there’s plenty of time for you and your family to dream a little too. For tickets and other information, check out the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ website: www.scfta.org. For more informaiton on the American Ballet Theatre, please visit www.abt.org. Tickets are also available at the door!