This year, we need a little Christmas, and TBT’s ‘Nutcracker’ fits the bill


ON POINTE | ‘The Nutcracker’ combines the grace of human movement with Tchaikovsky’s Romantic score. (Photo courtesy Marty Sohl)

miss-sloane-bugBy almost any metric, 2016 has been a rough year. From elections to celebrity passings, the specter of grimness has loomed ominously. Which is why, sometimes, you just want to be filled with joy.

Joyous is the word for Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. It contains one of the composer’s richest scores, a trove of instantly-recognizable classics of the Romantic Period, as effervescent as the fleet-footed dancers who perform it.

This has become a standard in the Texas Ballet Theater’s repertoire, as it is with virtually every ballet company in North America, and its celebratory happiness — a musical fruitcake, with every bite a colorful surprise — lifts your spirits.

On the chance you’re not familiar with the plot, it’s Christmas Eve, and young Clara (performed, at the production reviewed, by Charis Alimanova) and Fritz (Philip Slocki) anxiously await the opening of presents, especially from the mysterious toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer (Paul Adam), who brings Clara a nutcracker in the shape of a soldier. Fritz breaks it to Clara’s dismay, but Drosselmeyer “fixes” it, with the gift magically becoming full-sized, and dancing with his friends in this alternate universe where toys and candy come to life. Like contemporary animated films, it’s whimsical and funny for children, but beautiful and full of athleticism and power for adults; at some points, you half expect the dancers to break out into a chorus of “Be Our Guest.”

The cast, which alternates roles at various performances, is filled with some standouts, but ultimately, it’s the feeling evoked by lithe bodies engaged in graceful movement to a sprightly score that wins you over.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
Performances move from Dallas’ Winspear Opera House to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth for the remainder of the run. On Dec. 16, the company performs The Nutty Nutcracker, a comical riff on the classic choreography.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 09, 2016.