Boston Ballet presents Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker

Annie Walsh  Journal Staff

As you take a seat in the Boston Opera House, the walls around you soon seem to dissolve as you enter a fantasy dream world and become enthralled in the story that comes alive through the dancers. It is said that a great performance has a touch of magic that makes it phenomenal.  Perhaps it was merely the start of the holiday season or the beauty of the Boston Opera House but there was something truly magical about the Boston Ballet’s new premiere of Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker. This classic story known around the world of young Clara, the Mouse King, the Nutcracker, and the many characters they meet a long the way has a new twist to the traditional ballet. The new production, envisioned by Nissinen, contains all new choreography, sets, and costume designs yet still exhibits the same timeless tale in a flawless portrayal.

The curtain opens on the set of a doll maker’s workshop to reveal a Victorian mansion behind it where Clara and her guests are mingling. A charmingly graceful young Chelsea Perry stars as Clara; her infectious smile and passion capture your attention the moment she enters the stage. Another outstanding performer was John Lam as the Nutcracker. Once his Nutcracker head is removed and the real man is revealed, Lam effortlessly makes the audience fall in love with the courageous character. However, the true show stealer were the Christmas bear and bunny rabbit.  A dancer dressed in an overly large animal suit makes the audience laugh with their quirky dance movements and comical actions. A salute to the two dancers who played these characters is in order; the costume seemed rather difficult to dance in. Nevertheless, the dancing animals were leaping and fouetté turning across the stage smoothly and entertaining the audience magnificently.

The sets and the detail that went into creating the wonderful masterwork are one of the most memorable facets of the show. Imagination and powerful attention to detail is what Robert Perdziola brings to this stunning set. In the Victorian mansion, Perdziola is able to preserve the sophistication and elegance of the time period. The Christmas tree contains thousands of sparkling lights and real ornaments. When the Christmas tree grows larger and larger on the stage, the entire audience is lit up by the  display of dazzling color coming from the tree. Then the set turns into a winter wonderland with a white forest and snowflakes that fall from the sky, sparkling with every flutter. A unique and innovative   attribute to the production is a fresco in act two designed by Perdziola, which consists of The Nutcracker characters as well as historic dance figures including Romeo and Juliet, and Coppelia and Franz. Not only does act one entail of brilliant sets and colorful pieces, the dream sequence of act two in the prince’s kingdom is a sight for sore eyes.

If you enjoy impressive costumes, the Sugar Plum Fairy tutu exceeds all costumes. It consists of 4,000 Swarvoski crystals and nearly 250,000 gems. As Dalay Parrondo came on stage in this costume, the sight was so dazzling you could not tear your eyes away for a single moment. Many of the costumes were altered for the new production including the period dresses. To create a more romantic and softer appearance, the dresses have an empire waistline to define flowing movements. The choreography was tailored as well to adjust to the new sets and costumes designs. Standing out from all  the dances was a sultry and intense duet: the dance of the Arabians. The mood of the performance changed drastically from up beat Spanish dancers as the lights fade to establish an orange glow to the theater from the chandeliers.  Brittany Summer and Lasha Khozashvili command the stage with their captivating moves and defy gravity as they perform an incredibly difficult lift. Khozashvili effortlessly lifts Summer over his head, upside down and elevates her there while moving to the beat. Applause explodes from the audience as the shock is removed from their faces once they finish the dance.

The Boston Ballet company has done it again with the their ingenious rendition of The Nutcracker that included flawless performances by all company members and a gifted imagination from the production crew who crafted the sets and costumes.  Bring the family, friends, anyone for this classic show will appeal to everyone and promises to truly kick off your holiday season with spirit and a feeling of pure magic.

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