For more than 100 years, the Nutcracker Ballet has been performed — first in Russia in the late 1800s and then in the United States (San Francisco) in 1944. Now hundreds of ballet companies, professional and amateur, present the holiday classic, including several in the Kansas City area.
The ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman. The basic plot remains intact: a young German girl dreams her nutcracker toy becomes a prince, defeats the Mouse King and takes her to visit a magical kingdom.
Kansas City Ballet
The Kansas City Ballet has presented choreographer Todd Bolender’s “The Nutcracker” for 36 years. Now preparing for the 37th year, this family-oriented show that hits the status of holiday ritual, again includes students at the Kansas City Ballet School performing with the company.
Artistic Director William Whitener says, “The Nutcracker is a perennial favorite at the Kansas City Ballet. Danced to one of Tchaikovsky’s finest scores and played live by the Kansas City Symphony, it features a company of 26 professional dancers and over 200 Kansas City Ballet students who alternate in a variety of roles. It is a joyous experience for both the cast and audience members.”
Premiere Ballet of Kansas City
Artistic Director Jonni Allen, along with her dance school, offers the third annual production of the full-length ballet, “The Nutcracker,” during mid-December. She strives to offer entertainment and education through classical ballet and gives performing opportunities to novice and professional dancers.
“This ballet is a magical, enchanting, Christmas experience that makes for a sugar plumtastic holiday tradition,” she says. “It is professional quality with the gorgeous backdrops. Most of our costumes are originally designed by our wardrobe mistress, Frankie Wainwright, and constructed by hand by our wardrobe committee. Patrons enjoy the entire production since the scenes change quickly, but some annual favorites are the party scene when Clara receives her Nutcracker, and the Arabian and Russian dances in the second act.”
Ibsen Ballet Theatre
Ibsen Dance Theatre and Ibsen Ballet Theatre Youth Co. now performs “The Nutcracker” ballet every other year, as a benefit for the Northland Christmas Store. The company performed it every year from 1994 to 1999 and then moved to every other year. Preparing for the 11th performance, directors Susie and Van Ibsen, along with their daughter Cameo, who leads the ballet company, have given proceeds to the agency that helps about 1,200 families annually with food and presents. This year, more than 80 students will give their time for two performances Dec. 12.
“Ibsen Dance Theatre’s production of ‘Nutcracker’ fills many needs in the Northland. It is a chance for the school’s ballet students to perform in a professional production complete with scenery and costumes and at the same time perform community service by donating their time and talents to benefit the area’s less fortunate,” Susie says.