The Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker Enchants All
A holiday season without The Nutcracker is a few twirls short of magical. Generations have made listening to Tchaikovsky’s familiar suite part of their celebrations. I love how here in Colorado, we have the world-class Colorado Ballet dedicated to performing The Nutcracker for families. Not only can we hear the lovely, poignant, energetic score, we can see it how it was meant to be seen: With wonder, with skill, with love, though dance.
I was excited to take my ten-year-old son, Joel, to a recent performance at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Nutcracker has a reputation for being a great mommy-daughter date. Of course, ladies of all ages filled the expansive theater dressed in their holiday best, but there were plenty of guys on hand experience the fun. I think it’s really important to share the arts with our boys. Don’t assume that just because you can’t pincurl their hair they won’t like ballet. Appreciating the art—and athleticism— of ballet can come easily for girls and boys, especially when their first introduction happens to be The Nutcracker.
Why? Because from beginning to end, magic, humor, special effects, beauty, and astonishing athleticism own the stage. I looked at my son’s face several times, especially when I knew something awesome was about to happen. I was rewarded with widened eyes and a dropped jaw. He loved it. After, he had a hard time choosing which parts he liked the best. Tops in his book were the Mice, The Chinese Dancer (danced by Sean Omandam), and Mother Ginger (danced by Rony Lenis). During the performance, I could see him actively relating to the story—siblings fight and scheme. Parents give disapproving looks. We all long for magic, to be swept away sometime. Was it all a dream or was it real?
I admired the stunning beauty of the costuming and sets. Those dresses! All that snow falling! The mom in me worried about the dancers inhaling bits of faux flake. But those elements would be nothing without solid, graceful, athletic dancing. The standouts of the performance we saw were of course Clara (Caitlin Valentine-Ellis) and The Prince (Jesse Marks) but also Dew Drop, danced by Asuka Sasaki.
During intermission, I told Joel I had been in a Colorado Ballet production of The Nutcracker when I was about his age. I was a Gingersnap. He looked completely incredulous, perhaps because I am nowhere near ballerina-sleek and it was about 200 years ago. But I think revealing that bit of my past to him drove home the point that The Nutcracker will go on and on. Someday, he can hopefully share it with a family of his own during the holidays.
The Colorado Ballet is offering performance times now through December 28th, 2013, including matinee and evening performances. Tickets are on sale now. With all the demands and stress of the holiday season, I can’t think of a better way capture a bit of quiet wonder with your kids.
(Photos of The Nutcracker provided by The Colorado Ballet, copyright Mike Watson)