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The Nutcracker

Toronto International Ballet Theatre - Toronto's Meridian Hall

Photo courtesy of Toronto International Ballet Theatre Facebook page

Guest writer Geoffrey Coulter actor, director, arts educator

What a lovely night at the ballet! I don’t know how many Christmases have come and gone since I’ve seen a production of The Nutcracker in Toronto. As a child, I marvelled at this seasonal tale of a young girl who befriends a nutcracker, brought to life on Christmas Eve by her magical godfather, and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King, all told with exquisite dancers, larger-than-life sets, glorious costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s inimitable score.

Saturday’s one and only performance by the Toronto International Ballet Theatre was a delightful return to my youth. This production, directed and choreographed by Artistic Director, Tatiana Stepanova, had all the spectacle and wonder to delight and tantalize the senses. TIBT’s mandate is to bring young talented dancers and international stars together to perform in glorious extravaganzas. This production was certainly all that!

Act one featured the young company in the dazzling Christmas Eve party scene replete with toys, candy canes and a brightly decorated tree upstage centre, all courtesy of designers Shannon Khan and Keith Hill! The beautifully authentic early 19th-century costumes, designed and constructed by Shannon Khan, flowed elegantly as the dancers executed the choreography with precision and aplomb. Special mention to Madelyn Blois (Young Clara) and Angelo Durante (Fritz) who danced their roles with maturity and sure-footedness beyond their years. Kudos as well to the lovely technique of featured “dolls”, Mayuki Ichikawa, Nubia Gonzales, Haruka Kyoguchi and Ksenia Krouzkevitch.

The battle scene between the Mouse King, toy soldiers and Nutcracker was athletic and inventive, followed by the wonderful Snow Adagio danced with grace and precision by Teagan Hadcock (Snow Queen), her corps of Snowflakes along with Ukrainian guest artists, Olga Posternak (Adult Clara) and Vladyslav Romashchenko (Nutcracker Prince). Beautiful dance for a beautiful tale!

Act two featured the senior and adult performers in a celebration of international dances in the Land of Sweets. With dazzling, authentic costumes and innovative and athletic choreography, we sampled with Clara and the Prince the traditional Spanish, Arabian, Trepak, Chinese and Marzipan dances performed by some of the most exquisite young dancers I’ve ever seen! The last half of the act featured the breathtaking Waltz of the Flowers and Principal Dancers Posternak and Romaschenko’s brilliant Pas De Deux, a marvel of technique, fluidity, and interpretation. Just lovely!

The production ended with a much-deserved standing ovation! TIBT states in their program that they are passionate about instilling in their students and audiences the “wonder and value of the art form of dance”. Wonder indeed! Mission accomplished! Brava and thanks for the lavish and spectacular memories!

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