The Nutcracker

Venue: Queen Elizabeth Threatre

Dates: 7-9 December, 2001

Reviewer: R.M Pink

Ballet British Columbia sponsored The Nutcracker ballet that left the sold-out audience enchanted.

The performance was an artistic merger between dancers from Alberta Ballet, led by artistic director, Mikko Nissinen, who was once profiled on CNN, and Ballet British Columbia, led by the inventive and expressive John Alleyne.

The Nutcracker is based on A.E Hoffman's classic tale, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King." The ballet begins as young Clara's family prepares for its annual Christmas party.

Special guests at the party include the unique and fastidious Drosselmeier, a battalion of toy soldiers, the intimidating Mouse King and the Nutcracker who is transformed into a Prince.

In the final scene, Clara awakens in her bedroom with the Nutcracker doll by her side. Had she been dreaming? This is part of the allure of the timeless classic.

The music, by Tchaikovsky, was performed with beauty and precision by the noted Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under the direction of guest conductor, Peter Dala.

Dancers of note include the lithe and elegant Natasha Zheng who danced the role of Clara and the strong and attractive, Sylvain Senez who danced the role of Herr Drosselmeier.

Hokuto Kodama, originally from Japan, is a beautiful dancer with natural grace whose movement flows in a seemingly effortless rhythm. He won a gold medal at the Kobe International Dance Competition.

The secret of great dance is to make the movement seem effortless and many of the dancers on display have achieved this level artistry.

Special praise goes to the set and costume design which was lush and beautiful. The right mood was indeed created through the considerable talent of Roger La Voie, scenery designer; and the ever-talented Paul Daigle, costume designer. Lighting designer, Grant Johnson, used his artistry to fuse the stage and dancers in just the right balance.

The stellar level of performance and presentation will surely ensure the return of audience members for future engagements.

2001, R.M Pink

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