The Nutcracker

Ten Ladies Dancing

For hundreds of families, especially those with young ballet dancers, the Richmond Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” (there is another “Nutcracker” produced by the Concert Ballet) is the focal point of their holiday season. Parts are handed out in October, and two lucky girls are given the coveted part of Clara. This year they are Kate Robertson, a Collegiate School seventh-grader, and Laura Sauvain, a seventh-grader at Manchester Middle School.

They’ll be joined by 103 other children from the Ballet’s Center for Dance and its Minds in Motion programs in the area public school systems. For many of the Ballet’s young dancers, “The Nutcracker” marks a series of rites of passage as they proceed through the parts from tiny mice to sugar plum fairies.

Attending the production is a hallmark of the season not only for true lovers of Tchaikovsky but plenty of others who don’t exactly make ballet part of their usual entertainment repertoire. What draws both kinds of ticket-holders is the familiarity, perhaps. We know the story – the Ballet calls it “a celebration of the fears and wonders of childhood,” and we’ve heard the classic music for most of our lives. Seeing it performed is the culmination of that nostalgia and a visual delight. From the swishing of the long flowing gowns of the snowflakes in the opening scene to the huge hoop skirt of the oh-so-maternal Mother Ginger, this is a nonstop aesthetic delight that leaves little room for squirming in seats.

Newly choreographed in 1984 by the Ballet’s Artistic Director Stoner Winslett, “The Nutcracker” has been produced by the Richmond Ballet since 1968. This year it runs Dec. 10-22 at the Carpenter Center. If you don’t have your ticket yet, there’s still time, and if you’ve never seen it live, make this year your


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