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Crack open a tale of wonder: ‘The Nutcracker’ returns to Kahilu Theatre

Updated: 
December 16, 2016 - 2:05am

Gather your imagination and pack your holiday spirit for this year’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” one of the most well-known ballet performances in the country. West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy will perform its production of the holiday classic at Kahilu Theatre in Waimea on Tuesday and on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and on Thursday at 2 p.m.

A Christmas tradition for many families, the ballet combines the music of Peter Tchaikovsky and the dreamy fairy tale based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice.” The magical performance of snowflakes and fairies in the Land of Sweets thrills adults and children alike as the audience is taken on a magical journey of enchantment.

“We have quite a lot of changes in ‘The Nutcracker’ this year,” said Artistic Director Virginia Holte. “It started when we received a grant to refurbish our studio and it was like this huge purge of clearing that brought in a lot of new energy for us in general. Also, many of the dancers are in their third year of performing this ballet. They are getting older and stronger so were able to give them a lot more choreography.”

This year’s performance features more than 60 local dancers, as well as guest dancers from The Maui Academy of Performing Arts, and guest professional dancers from the Matsuyama Ballet in Japan, Carolina Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet.

The original ballet production of “The Nutcracker” was intended to be a sequel to “The Sleeping Beauty.” Peter Tchaikovsky, who also composed the music to “The Sleeping Beauty” ballet, was commissioned by the St. Petersburg Opera House to compose the music for “The Nutcracker,” as well. It was first performed on Dec. 18, 1892, at the Mariansky Theatre in St. Petersburg and made its premiere in the United States by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1940.

“The Nutcracker” tells the story of Clara, who is given a magical Nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve by her eccentric Uncle Drosselmeyer. Adventure awaits as she and her transformed Nutcracker Prince battle the ominous Rat King prior to embarking on an adventure through the Land of the Snow. With the assistance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and her Prince travel to the Land of the Sweets where they are entertained by an Arabian Princess, Spicy Spanish Dancers, Giggling Chinese Dancers, delightful Marzipan, and beautiful Waltzing Flowers.

The dancers are accompanied by the music of academy pianist Megumi Kopp, violinist Joel Gimpel, and cellist Julie Salis. Choreography is based on the original Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo version, and has been adapted by Holte, Co-Director Midori Satoh, and instructors Jenna Ojeda, Ann Marie Pargett and Megan Joy Chapman.

“It’s a big, magical Christmas party with inspiring costumes and dancers,” said Holte. “It lifts you up out of where you are and puts you in a great holiday mood.”

Tickets for the performance range in price from $23 to $28 and can be purchased online at www.kahilutheatre.org.

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