Students featured in ‘The Nutcracker’ performances
TNE Editor

Students featured in ‘The Nutcracker’ performances

Published 11/28/18

Sara Ryals    

TNE Writer       

The Nutcracker, a classic Christmas story, is a fairytale ballet in two acts centered on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. Alexandre Dumas Père’s adaptation of the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa. It was commissioned by the director of Moscow’s Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, in 1891, and premiered a week before Christmas 1892. Since premiering in western countries in the 1940s, the ballet has become the most popular to be performed in the holiday season. The story focuses on a young girl’s Christmas Eve and her awakening to the wider world and romantic love.

Natalie Walker, Tahlequah sophomore, is the Sugar Plum Fairy for Encore Performing Society’s 2018 production of Tchaikovky’s Nutcracker. The Encore Performing Society is a non profit organization. Walker has performed in the Alice production, based off of the literary work. Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella. She has performed with the Moscow Ballet in their rendition of The Nutcracker and in a tribute to America’s Five Great Indian Ballerinas, The Four Moons, at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.  

“My favorite part of The Nutcracker is getting to continue the tradition,” said Walker.” The Nutcracker ballet has been a Christmas tradition for many families for over a century.”

The first performance of the Christmas ballet was held as a double premiere together with Tchaikovsky’s last opera, Iolanta, during the Christmas season on Dec. 18, 1892 at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The production was conducted by Riccardo Drigo, with Antoinetta Dell-Era as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Pavel Gerdt as her Prince, Stanislava Belinskaya as Clara/Masha, Sergei Legat as the Nutcracker Prince and Timofei Stukolkin as Uncle Drosselmeyer.

“I saw the nutcracker last year at The NSU Center for Performing Arts,” said Bethany Worthington, Tahlequah sophomore. “I tend not to like live action performances, but this performance took me back to my childhood. The Barbie Nutcracker was one of my favorite movies when I was young and watching this performance took me back to that feeling of excitement for Christmas time.”

The Christmas ballet was first performed outside of Russia, in England, in 1934. Its first United States performance was in 1944 by the San Francisco Ballet, staged by artistic director and Balanchine student Willam Christensen. The New York City Ballet first performed George Balanchine’s Nutcracker in 1954 but the ballet did not achieve great popularity until the George Balanchine staging debuted in New York City.

Tahlequah native, Jessie Hooper is the Nutcracker prince for the 2018 Christmas production. Hooper has been performing for eight years.

“I'm excited to be performing again,” said Hooper. “I loved it so much when I was doing it all the time and it feels good to get back to it because I enjoy inspiring the kids I perform with to push harder and be better.”

The cast began working on the Nutcracker production after auditions in September. Participants have had three and a half months since the first day of rehearsals to the opening night of the ballet. The cast often rehearses six hours a day to perfect the ballet. Rehearsals are often on the weekends from 9 7 p.m.

“Even the kids in the production were so well rehearsed,” said Worthington. I felt like I was watching a ballet in New York City. It’s probably the best Christmas experience Tahlequah has to offer.”

The 2018 Nutcracker production is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 4 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the Wagoner High School Performing Arts Center. An additional production of the show is at 3 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the Tahlequah High School Performing Arts Center. To purchase tickets, call the Encore Performing Society at 918-803-1408.

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