At a family Christmas party, a young girl is given a toy nutcracker by her godfather, an eccentric toy maker and magician. Late that night, the nutcracker magically comes to life. Wicked mice attack and the girl bravely rescues the nutcracker. He transforms into a prince who takes her on an enchanted voyage to a snowy forest and the candy-sweet realm of the Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s December—that means it’s Nutcracker ballet time.
How many Nutcrackers are there in the U.S.? As far as we know, no one has made a 50-state tally. But whereas the national website Nutcracker Ballet. Net lists three shows by Missouri companies in 2013, we’ve found 18. Some are full-length, some condensed. Some are professional, some danced by students. Some run for weeks, some for one performance. From grand to intimate, brand-new to decades-old, each is crafted with imagination and performed with passion and verve.
“The Nutcracker is a highly anticipated part of our season for the dancers,” said CiCi Houston, associate director of Alexandra Ballet, a professional-level student company in west St. Louis County. “It gives them the stability of familiar repertoire, but also a sense of their growth as they progress through the roles over the years.” For the professional Missouri Ballet Theatre in St. Peters, said Founder and Artistic Director Adam Sage, “Nutcracker is the one time during the season we have a minimum of 10 performances, and this gives our dancers the opportunity to really climb into their roles and make the most of it.”
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Written by Barbara MacRobie of the Missouri Arts Council.