{FAMILY} The Nutcracker: Celebrate Christmas With Clara

To those who know me or who have been following my blog, it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Nutcracker ballet. I’ve seen the holiday classic for 35 consecutive years now – 3 times last year alone, and 2 times planned for this year.

Each year I wonder if I’ll tire of the dreamy dance, and each year I’m pleasantly surprised by clever twists, captivating costumes, challenging choreography and the new dancers that grace the stage to perform my favourite ballet.

I leave each performance anticipating the next, and the tradition continues year after year.

Ballet BC Nutcracker

Ballet BC presents a run of performances each Winter, performed by either the Alberta Ballet, or the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. This year, one of the most prestigious dance companies in the country – the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, will be returning to the stage, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.

The role of Clara will be performed by Sophia Lee – a Vancouver-trained ballerina and Principal Dancer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this talented and versatile artist will bring to her role as the leading lady.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the holiday tale, here’s a brief synopsis:

Danced to Tchaikovsky’s glorious music, the story follows the wondrous adventures of Clara, her Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. The turn-of-the century fantasy is set in a stately mansion where young Clara’s Christmas dream world features toy soldiers, dancing mice and a mischievous bear who steals the Christmas pudding. When Clara’s Christmas gift comes to life and defeats the evil Mouse King, she’s whisked away to a magical kingdom, where the Sugar Plum Fairy reigns. Whether you’re beginning a new holiday tradition or revisiting an old favourite, you’ll be enthralled by Clara’s escapades with her Nutcracker Prince.

Each year, I like to share the gift of dance with my readers through a giveaway, and this year I’m so excited to be giving away a pair of tickets to the December 10th performance at 2pm. Enter to win below:

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Ballet BC Nutcracker

More Info:

Artistic Director: André Lewis
Choreography: Galina Yordanova and Nina Menon
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Costume Design: Paul Daigle
Scenic Design: Brian Perchaluk
Lighting Design: Michael J. Whitfield

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{FAMILY} The Nutcracker: Always On Pointe

I’ve been going to see The Nutcracker ballet at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver every year since I was 3 years old, and after over 30 years of Sugar Plum Fairy-twirling, soldier sword-yielding, mouse menacing, and ringleted ballerina dreaming, people often wonder what keeps me going back for more – year after year.

Nutcracker

My oldest daughter and I – off to see The Nutcracker

The truth is, each year’s performance is like a brand new experience for me. While the music has remained the same since the first adaptation of the story in 1891, Tchaikovsky’s familiar Nutcracker Suite perfectly compliments the ever-evolving choreography that accompanies the classical Christmas ballet.

I love that Ballet BC brings in guest ballet companies each year to perform their own rendition of The Nutcracker. Last year, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet surprised guests with Canadian-themed twists, and this year, Alberta Ballet returned with some surprises of their own.

The choreography, led by Edmund Stripe, was sophisticated and stunning, yet it preserved the youthful liveliness of the children’s tale. As in previous years, the performance featured over 80 young dancers from dance schools across the Lower Mainland, but this year the tiny dancers were brought to the forefront of several scenes, performing technically-challenging steps seamlessly and with contagious enthusiasm that lit up the stage.

Alberta Ballet The Nutcracker local students DSC_2193

Local dancers rehearsing for Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker

The sets and costumes, designed by Emmy Award-winning designer Zack Brown, brought an elevated level of drama and realism to the stage this year, featuring lifelike costumes, sparkling snowflakes, and comedic whimsy to characters like the grandfather, who merrily trotted across the stage with a bouncing head of silver locks that had the crowd bellowing with laughter.

Alexandra Gibson played the role of Clara in the opening performance, and her exuberant acting and technically-sharp dancing made her character believable and engaging throughout the performance. I recognized Alex from previous Alberta Ballet performances (along with her identical twin sister Jennifer who shared the stage), yet her performance this year seemed to have an elevated level of energy and maturity.

Company Dancers in Alberta Ballet's The Nutcracker 6893

When the Sugar Plum Fairy glided across the stage, shimmying effortlessly en pointe in her sparkling gown, I immediately recognized the dancer as Christiana Bennett, a prima ballerina who had danced with Ballet West (and starred in a ballet-themed reality show Breaking Pointe in 2012).  Christiana shone brightly, proving to be an asset to the highly-acclaimed Canadian dance company.

This year’s performance of The Nutcracker was astounding, a can’t-miss holiday event for both seasoned ballet enthusiasts and first-timers alike.

Lucky for you, tickets are still available for the remaining dates:

December 30th @ 2pm & 7:30pm

December 31st @ 2pm

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{FAMILY} The Nutcracker: A Reignited Passion For Dance

Last year, after 4 years of taking weekly ballet classes, my daughter decided to take a break from the classical dance genre to try something new.

At first, my heart sank. I had grown up with a passion for the arts, and watching my little girl sauté and pirouette on stage each year had made me so proud. But I soon realized that instead of dancing vicariously through my daughter, it was time for me to return to the barre myself, and I’m still taking adult ballet classes today.

When I treated her to a mother-daughter date to see The Nutcracker last year, her passion for ballet was reignited and she decided to give it another try. This year her class will be performing their own rendition of the holiday classic and my little girl is thrilled to be dancing in the Arabian scene – one of our all-time favourite Nutcracker pieces.

Nutcracker

The Arabian dance performed by Alberta Ballet

I’m looking forward to watching my tiny dancer perform on stage once again this year, and I’m excited to share with her our annual holiday tradition of watching professional ballerinas perform in The Nutcracker in the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Theatre again this holiday season.

This year will be my 34th consecutive year of watching the production, and each year I look forward to seeing how each choreographer and dance ensemble put their own twist on the famous Christmas ballet.

Nutcracker

Choreographed by Edmund Stripe, and decorated with more than a million dollars worth of dazzling sets and costumes designed by Emmy Award-winning designer Zack Brown, this year’s production promises to be an unforgettable event. Ballet BC’s artistic director, Emily Molnar explains the decision to bring Alberta Ballet back to Vancouver:

“Vancouver audiences were delighted with Alberta Ballet’s The Nutcracker when it was first presented here in 2011. We’re pleased to bring back this magical version of the famous Christmas ballet with its live music performed by the VSO, extravagant sets and costumes and the talented dancers of Alberta Ballet. The Nutcracker is unforgettable family entertainment that is sure to enrich your holiday season.”

Nutcracker

Each year, I like to share the gift of dance with my readers through a giveaway, and this year I’m so excited to be giving away not two, but four tickets to the performance (a $280 value)! Enter to win below, and stay tuned for my review of this year’s show.

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Nutcracker

THE NUTCRACKER

Choreography: Edmund Stripe
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE

December 29, 2015 7:30pm
December 30, 2015 2:00pm
December 30, 2015 7:30pm
December 31, 2015 2:00pm

 

Light Up The Holidays With The Nutcracker Ballet {Giveaway}

Last year was the first year that I was able to share my annual holiday tradition of seeing the Nutcracker ballet with my daughter, and it was a memorable mother-daughter experience that we will never forget. It was the first time that my little ballerina was able to watch professional dancers perform the Christmas-themed ballet on stage, and she watched the entire performance wide-eyed – completely in awe of the magic that unfolded on the stage before her.

This year I can’t wait to surprise her again with tickets to the Nutcracker (presented by Ballet BC), this time performed by Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet – one of the most prestigious dance companies in the country.

“We excitedly present this ballet each year as it ties our past to our future. With Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year, we are very happy that Vancouver is part of our exciting touring season and that we are working with Ballet BC.”

– André Lewis, Artistic Director of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Nutcracker

Photo by Vince Pahkala

Sprinkled with a few Canadian-themed surprises, this rendition of the Christmas classic promises to surprise and intrigue even the most knowledgeable of ballet connoisseurs, and the sparkling tutus, magical characters, and life-like set decor (snow falling from the sky – a childhood favourite scene) make the Nutcracker an unforgettable experience for the whole family to savour.

Not only is the Nutcracker the can’t-miss event of the holiday season, but it supports young artists across Canada who aspire to pursue a career in dance.

“Casting over 70 talented, aspiring young dancers from close to 20 dance schools across the Lower Mainland, this gives us a chance to support the local dance community. This marks the first opportunity for these young dancers to perform with a professional ballet company. We are excited to provide this experience to so many young artists.”

– Emily Molnar, Artistic Director of Ballet BC

Nutcracker

Photo by Vince Pahkala

Share this magical ballet adventure with your family and treat them to an evening they won’t forget.

In true Christmas spirit, I offer the gift of dance through a giveaway for Bits of Bee readers! Enter below for a chance to WIN a pair of tickets to this year’s unforgettable performance of the Nutcracker ballet.

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NUTCRACKER

Choreography: Galina Yordanova & Nina Menon
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

QUEEN ELIZABETH THEATRE
DECEMBER 12 – 14, 2014 • Performances at 7:30 pm
DECEMBER 13 – 14, 2014 • Performances at 2:00pm

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