The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine presented ‘The Nutcracker’ on Nov. 17 in the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center. This is the second show at Luhrs this year and was a perfect start to this upcoming holiday season. Families young and old travelled to view the show, including President Patterson and Mrs. Patterson.
The ballet featured 57 dancers performing renditions of the traditional Tchaikovsky ballet. Andrey Litvinov choreographed the show, which included updated takes on all the classic pieces in The Nutcracker including the Arabian dance, the Tarantella, and the Grand Pas de Deux, or “dance for two.”
The first act of The Nutcracker began with the dancers in front of a screen portraying an outdoor winter landscape as they all made their way to the Christmas gathering. The extravagant, colorful costumes of The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine were geared towards younger viewers and provided a stunning visual element that is lost in some versions of the production.
The Nutcracker also included a great deal of theatrical special effects to complete the fantasy atmosphere. As the audience was introduced to the Mouse King, and just before the Nutcracker transforms into the Prince, the production made use of fog machines. As Clara, the show’s protagonist, shrinks down to the size of the Mouse King, the Christmas tree appeared to grow behind her. The show was not only a graceful performance, but also engaging visually.
The opening of the second act was much livelier as the music seemed to be more recognizable to the audience. The “Divertissement” section of the show was well received by the audience. Each number in the section explores a different dance style and cultural aspect as Clara and the Prince travel throughout the land. The dancers in “Chocolate: Spanish Dance” and “Trepak: Russian Dance” executed a series of impressive pirouettes, or spins done on a singular pointe shoe.
The audience at Luhrs was enraptured by “Coffee: Arabian Dance” and its contortionist elements, even well after the dance was completed. The audience’s applause rang each time those dancers returned to the stage with their tricks.
The Prince’s performance was phenomenal in the “Waltz of the Flowers.” His strength in the lifts and the grace of his footwork were unmatched by others in the production. Clara achieved an outstanding dance during the Pas de Deux with the Prince as she executed spectacular pirouettes throughout the two dances. The Pas de Deux during “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” is a highly anticipated number in the ballet, and The State Ballet Theatre’s rendition was truly beautiful.
The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine will continue touring the U.S.A. and Canada through Jan. 2022 to perform their version of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Visit www.luhrscenter.com to see the shows offered in Shippensburg in the Spring of 2022.