What better way to celebrate the holiday season than to see Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Sendak and Stowell’s Nutcracker? It is truly a one-of-a-kind show that the entire family can enjoy.
The classic is brought to life with vivid backdrops and bright ruffled dresses that transport the audience straight to Nuremburg to find festivities in full swing on Christmas Eve in the Stahlbaum home.
The lively energy and expressiveness of the dancers is absolutely infectious and brings the excitement of a child on Christmas. Dr. and Frau Stahlbaum, played by Eric Hipolito Jr. and Emma Love Suddarth, respectively, embody the sophistication and elegance that is expected of the hosting family. And Fritz, played by Jack Neeleman, portrays the mischievous younger brother with just the right amount of charm. Genevieve Knight, the dancer who dances Young Clara, could not be a more perfect fit for the role. She tells the story, not only through dance but also through facial expressions, which make the entire story easy to connect to. From delight and eager anticipation to fear and heartbreaking sorrow, Knight doesn’t miss a beat.
The highlight of the show however, comes at the end of the first act as Clara, now portrayed by principal dancer Lesley Rausch, and her prince, Jerome Tisserand, journey through the Land of Snow. The dancers, in their beautiful white tutus studded with crystals that glimmer under the stage lights, leap and twirl as effortlessly as if they were weightless. Combined with the winter wonderland backdrop and soft snowfall on the stage, the audience is sucked into Clara’s dream.
The second act of the Nutcracker can be summarized as non-stop action, humor, and fun. The dances originate from multiple regions of the world, starting with a delightful number starring the corps. The Moors’ dance captures the spirit and zest of nomadic life, while the Peacock, played by Lindsi Dec, evokes an air of mysterious beauty. The smoothness and easy flow of Dec’s movements presents the same dignified grace as the proud animal. From there, it moves to the Chinese Girls dressed in traditional cheongsams with most humorous Tiger you’ll ever meet and three charming Dervishes that liven up the room with their dance filled with jumps and spins. It is awe-inspiring, once again, how much energy the audience is able to get from the performers.
As the show nears conclusion, the aptly named Commedia trio provides a dash of humor, and promising little stars are featured in the endearing Toy Theatre act. To round it all off is the Waltz of the Flowers, which has the same whimsical feeling as the Snowflakes Dance and the pas de deux of Clara and her Prince. The pas de deux ends the show with grandeur — lift after lift, Rausch and Tisserand pull it off without a flaw.
Nutcracker is a delightful must-see of the season. The single miniscule flaw one might find is that the plot can be confusing if you do not know the story. No worries however, as the program provides all the information you need to know about the show. Beautiful sets and costumes, amazing dancers, and the beloved story come together to form an unforgettable show that would be a shame to miss. Love it again for the last time!
Pacific Northwest Ballet
November 28 - December 28