For some, it is not officially the holiday season until they hear the familiar chimes, elusive percussions, and playful tune of “The Nutcracker” ballet.
The Nutcracker, presented by the Radford University Ballet Theatre, will open Friday at Radford University.
If Tchaikovsky’s score is not luring enough, the theatre has casted internationally recognized professional ballet dancers from Russia and Brazil for the leading roles.
Inessa Plekhanova, the artistic director of Radford University’s Ballet Theatre and the director of “The Nutcracker,” said it is always exciting to produce, especially since it is the holiday season.
This Christmas tale originated in Moscow theatres and premiered in the late 1800s. It was not until the 1940s that audiences in America saw the production.
It first landed in San Francisco but did not gain popularity until the New York City Ballet performed Balanchine’s “Nutcracker” in 1954, according to the Moscow Ballet’s website.
“It’s become a Christmas tradition,” Plekhanova said. “When it started, it was playing every December, and now, everyone does it.”
The ballet is based on the enchanting story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” by E.T.A Hoffman. The story we are familiar with today is an adaptation of this tale by Alexandre Dumas Père, which was then choreographed to music by Tchaikovsky.
Before its premiere in 1892, the composer selected the eight most popular pieces to form what is now known as the Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a.
The classic storyline sets a young girl on Christmas Eve who dreams of a journey with her beloved nutcracker toy that transforms into a prince to fight mice and explore the Land of Sweets with her. A twist at the end leads the audience to question if it was actually a dream.
Plekhanova said that her favorite scene of The Nutcracker is the snow scene, because it allows room for more acting and depicts playful music.
Plekhanova also said that a production as big as this one requires an immense amount of work to synchronize so many dancers with the live orchestra.
“We have to coordinate everything together for it to go well,” Plekhanova said. “It is a challenge, but it’s so exciting.”
Plekhanova has been rehearsing for five weeks with about 80 dancers, including dance and theatre major students as well as children in the University Ballet Youth program, a program founded in 2005 to prepare young performers for “The Nutcracker.”
Aleksey Plekhanov, an adjunct dance faculty at Radford, has assisted with directing the show, particularly with the choreography of the battle scene. He is also the primary teacher of the child dancers of the University Ballet Youth program.
Radford performs The Nutcracker every other year. Though the live music is a tradition, Plekhanova said the 2010 production used recorded music due to financial reasons, so she is excited to have the orchestra this year.
The show will be performed in the Bondurant Auditorium and will run through December 9. Tickets are available at the Hurlburt Hall Information Desk. The number for tickets is 540-831-5420.