Limelights, curtains, and people anticipating are the usual things before a show as extravagant as a ballet performance. There is a jolt of excitement as the first few notes are played, the curtains silently open, and the stage is revealed. You cannot help but marvel at its ability to sweep you into becoming a part of the spectacle. There is no experience the same as that in the theatre.
BalletMet is a ballet company that aims to always bring the magic of their performance wherever they go. Being one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the US, it stages 60 to 70 performances a year. One of those is the beloved “The Nutcracker.” Ohio Theatre hosts the company’s performance every Holiday season, warming hearts appropriate to the time.
“BalletMet production of “The Nutcracker” remains any child’s perfect introduction to both dance and classical music.” – Columbus Alive
“The dancers are more than capable of transmitting the magic of The Nutcracker on their own.” – The Columbus Dispatch
The ballet company has a colorful history. It was formed in 1978 under the grant of the Battelle Memorial Institute Foundation. Its humble beginnings consisted of three staff and 12 dancers. Later, Wayne Soulant held the helm as the Artistic Director and stayed there until 1986. He formed a company of 13 dancers, who performed their first show on October 13. John McFall followed after. He refined not just the company but also the academy and many of its facilities. His tenure lasted for eight years. David Nixon succeeded. He was known for adding 16 world and 15 company premieres to the repertoire. Gerard Charles came after, who led as director for 12 years.
The current Artistic Director is Edwaard Liang. As a tradition, he continued the director’s work as a choreographer. He has attracted the buzz of the ballet community after adding to the repoirtere many classical and contemporary ballets. “We want to be an innovator of dance and be a part of the bigger dance conversation,” said Liang in an interview. He assembled a company of 26 dancers. Also, in his leadership, the company holds six shows each season. This includes his original choreography, two classical and contemporary ballets, and “The Nutcracker.”
“The Nutcracker” has a long history with the ballet company encompassing 40 years. Way before the formal establishment of BalletMet, Ohio Theatre has been hosting a production of the most famous ballet production. In 1978, with the company’s formation, “The Nutcracker” first premiered with BalletMet in December. The display continued for five years. Because the community enjoyed it so much, the company expanded the show in 1983. Wayne Soulant changed some of the choreography, and a new set design was inforced.
Another set of changes occurred in 1987, under director JohnMcFall, who created his own choreography of the production. In 1992, the BalletMet was one of the many ballet companies that performed a version of “The Nutcracker” to celebrate the show’s 100th anniversary. This was called the “Centennial Nutcracker.”
During David Nixon’s tenure, the company again embraced another production revamp. He continued this until 2001, finally setting on his definitive version.
On the other hand, Gerard Charles’ version was the most memorable. Nancy Strauss, affiliated with the company since the beginning, said that the “Ballet Met’s longest-running Nutcracker is the charming version conceived and created by Artistic Director Gerard Charles and Robert Post in 2004, with new choreography by Gerard Charles and a narrative voiceover by actor Sean Connery. This beloved family-friendly version is still captivating Columbus audiences.”
The 40th anniversary came as responsibility for Edwaard Liang. He recruited a cast of 152 BalletMet students, aiming to showcase the grandeur of the production. The company’s season will not be complete without “The Nutcracker,” which is still performed annually.
The changes in choreography every year are intended to retain the production’s newness and not lose its magic after being performed multiple times in many years. Usually, the magic of Drosselmeyer is the most frequently altered.
The story of “The Nutcracker” is based on the short story of E.T.A. Hoffman, a German writer during the 19th century. Its story chronicles the adventure of Clara with the Nutcracker, who later turned into a prince. The original choreography was from Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. Composer Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky was inspired by Hoffman’s story. That is why he took the job of creating whimsical music for the production. Its popularity started during the ’60s and is now a staple production for ballet companies.
See BalletMet’s “The Nutcracker” at the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, and treat to the enchanting confections of costumes, larger-than-life seats, and delightful choreography in Clara’s dreamy journey. Pick a date on its scheduled December 8 to 24 runs. Tickets are now available, and you can get yours by clicking the “Get Tickets” link.