Ballet Northwest, whose annual 2020 production of The Nutcracker was only on film, is back with a full production of the Christmas classic.
The annual beloved story of a young girl’s strange nocturnal journey to a land populated by rodents, toys and snowflakes begins on Friday, December 10th, at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts. It will also be available online between December 17th and 31st.
“We’re excited to return to the Washington Center stage with a full classical ballet for a live audience,” said Ken Johnson, who co-directs the Olympia Dance Company with his wife Josie Johnson. “We did three dance films last year … and then came back on stage at the Washington Center with our Young Choreographers’ Showcase, but this is the first full production with sets and costumes since before COVID.”
Of course, the ongoing pandemic is still affecting ballet, which is popular for its imaginative themes and the evocative melodies of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The company required that all dancers be either vaccinated or tested, and most – with the exception of a few vaccinated ones in lead roles – will wear masks on stage. Some scenes have also been modified.
“The cast is a little smaller and some of the group scenes are smaller,” Johnson told The Olympian. “We have 140 in the line-up; usually over 200.
“There isn’t as much contact between the dancers as usual, other than the main cast,” he added.
Returning as Cavalier is Lucas Horns, who danced professionally at Ballet West in Salt Lake City and danced the role at Ballet Northwest in 2019. The role of Sugar Plum Fairy is split between Elina Brein (20) from Centralia and Nina Ivanenko, 17, lives in Lacey and attends Running Start at South Puget Sound Community College.
“Lucas told us how impressed he was with how the dancers here at Olympia continued to improve and grow and get stronger during the pandemic,” said Johnson.
As traditional as it is, “The Nutcracker” offers space for additions and changes as Clara travels from her home to the kingdom of snow and the land of sweets. “We try to keep the choreography fresh and exciting,” Josie Johnson said in a press release. “This year we have a few other surprises in store.”
But perhaps the greatest pleasure of producing is no surprise at all, said Ken Johnson.
“It’s so great to see this old group performance,” he said. “When the hard work of an entire cast comes together for this magic on stage, there is nothing like it.”
Josie Johnson added, “The magic between audience and performers is something special that we have all missed.”
Ballet Northwest’s “The Nutcracker”
- When: Friday, December 10th and 17th, 7:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday, December 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th, 2:00 pm
- Where: Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia
- Tickets: $ 14- $ 35, with discounts for students, seniors, and teenagers
- More information: 360-753-8586, https://www.washingtoncenter.org/organizer/ballet-northwest/
- Likewise: Proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test is required for admission to the center.
- See it online: The ballet will be streamed online from December 17th to 31st. Tickets are $ 25.