“The Nutcracker” on opening night was something to behold. On Sat. Dec. 9, Richmond Ballet premiered its annual festive production at the Carpenter Theatre for families and dance enthusiasts alike. With extravagant costumes and detailed set design, Richmond Ballet’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” is iconic.
The performance’s symphony played in the pit, and the curtains rose to the overture put forth from clarinets, violins, and French horns. Apart from the dazzling story, the live music was the most enjoyable part of the evening. Hearing that bassoon rip the run in “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” was immensely satisfying.
The first act of the production begins as a story through movement with musical accompaniment, telling the old tale of a girl, a mouse, and a nutcracker. From the start, Richmond Ballet’s incorporation of their students in the School of Richmond Ballet and Richmond Ballet’s Minds in Motion Ambassadors into “The Nutcracker” is the program’s strongest quality by far. Yes, the art and skill are phenomenal, but to see Richmond Ballet put children from their dance programs alongside their company dancers – that accessibility is what makes this community stronger.
The props, pyrotechnics, and tech crew deserve shoutouts for their execution in that first act, as well as Lauren Archer and Matthew Frain’s performance. The second act is when the remaining company dancers take turns on the stage. Costuming from around the world accompanied cultural dances in the guise of ballet. Chinese, Spanish, Russian dances and more provided rich context in the “Kingdom of Sweets” for children and parents.
My favorite performances of the night went to “Marzipan (Mirliton Dance)” with Sabrina Holland, Marty Davis, and the cutest lambs I’ve ever seen. This piece epitomizes that accessibility for Richmond Ballet children to get an opportunity to perform with professional dancers. And the “Grand Pas de Deux” from Maggie Small and Fernando Sabino was breathtaking. Magnificent all around.
Photos by Sara Ferguson