Local dance troupes offer variety of ‘Nutcracker’ performances

Dance Theatre Northwest will perform their Nutcracker ballet Dec. 16 and 17 at Mount Tahoma Auditorium. photo courtesy of DTNW

The Nutcracker,” a two-act ballet performed to music originally penned by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1892, has become entrenched as an American Christmas tradition. The ballet presents the story of Clara, a young girl who fantasizes about and falls in love with a nutcracker figurine that she received for Christmas. The story involves all manner of colorful characters and creatures: A handsome prince, a rat king, living dolls, angels, fairies, drummers, dewdrops, dancing snowflakes and many more. The production gives ballet companies license to pull out all the stops and to put its dancers into colorful costumes amid lavish stage settings. Dance troupes large and small generally schedule a performance of the “Nutcracker” as part of their annual schedule. (It is said that American ballet companies generate approximately 40 percent of their annual ticket sales from performances of “The Nutcracker.”) Dance groups in Tacoma are no exception. There are a number of opportunities coming up during the next few weeks for local residents to get out and experience Tchaikovsky’s holiday masterpiece.

Tacoma area performances of The Nutcracker

  • Tiny Nutcracker and the Land of the Speakeasy

Fri., Dec. 15, 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (first show is all ages, second show is 21+)

Jazzbones, 2803 6th Ave., Tacoma

Step into the world of the roaring 20’s and experience the magic of “The Nutcracker” in a tiny and intimate setting. This variant of “The Nutcracker” is hosted by Tacoma’s own Mylo Precious as Drosselmeyer and boasts some of the Pacific Northwest’s very best. You will be whisked away on a topsy-turvy journey through the Land of the Speakeasy. Encounter all of your favorite characters in this newly reimagined production all while delighting on your favorite tipples and nibbles. The evening includes a photo booth, raffles and a costume contest. Best dressed 1920’s look wins a fabulous prize.

There will be a special performance by John Walker and the Hitchhikers following the second show.

Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Info: jazzbones.com

  • Tacoma City Ballet presents “The Nutcracker & The Tale of the Hard Nut”

Fri., Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 17, 3 p.m.

Thurs., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 22, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Dec. 23, 3 p.m.

Federal Way Performing Arts & Event Center, 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S., Federal Way

This season, Tacoma City Ballet celebrates its very first production of “The Nutcracker & The Tale of The Hard Nut” at the Federal Way Performing Arts & Event Center. This timeless holiday classic, first presented in 1892 in St. Petersburg, has entertained generations for over a century. Now, told in its entirety, “The Tale of The Hard Nut” is presented alongside the traditional Russian “Nutcracker” creating a glorious production filled with dancing, music, grand scenery and lavish costumes.  A “Sugar Plum Tea” follows performances on Dec. 17 and 23.

Tickets: $18-$104

Info: tacomacityballet.com/performance-season

  • Dance Theatre Northwest “The Nutcracker”

Sat., Dec. 16, 2:30 & 7 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 17, 4 p.m.

Mount Tahoma Auditorium, 

4634 S. 74th St., Tacoma

Dance Theatre Northwest presents “The Nutcracker,” a charming holiday tradition that will enchant and surprise as dolls come to life, snowflakes twirl, and dancing ambassadors from all over the world welcome a little girl to the Land of Sweets.

Tickets: $22-$26

Info: dtnw.org

  • Washington Contemporary Ballet presents, “The Nutcracker”

Sat., Dec. 16, 7 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. 

Stadium High School Performing Arts Center, 111 N. E St., Tacoma

Washington Contemporary Ballet celebrates the holiday season with its annual production of “The Nutcracker.” This full-length classical presentation of a family holiday favorite includes Tchaikovsky’s memorable score and choreography by Kay Englert.

Tickets: $25-$30

Info: wcbdance.org/index.html

Russian Grand Ballet presents “The Nutcracker”

Tue., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.

Pantages Theater, 901 Broadway, Tacoma

Tchaikovsky’s lustrous music and the magnificent choreography of Marius Petipa have made this beloved story a must-see for children of all ages. Russian Grand Ballet’s full-length classical production features Russia’s brightest ballet stars.

Tickets: $35, $45, $65, $85

Info: russiangrandballet.com

Tips for appreciation of a ballet performance

A body in motion:

While watching, keep in mind that ballet dancers have spent many hours strengthening themselves and learning to make difficult feats of balance and flight look effortless, weightless and graceful. Pay attentions to the bodies of the dancers, the shapes that they take and the motions they make in their efforts to express the emotional and narrative content of the story being performed.

Do some research: It does not hurt (unless you want to go in as an empty vessel and experience the ballet without preconceptions) to do a little research beforehand. Read a synopsis of the story that the ballet will perform. Read what dance critics have written about other performances of the same ballet to get an idea of what to look for.

Listen to the music beforehand: Familiarity with music tends to enhance one’s appreciation of it. Music usually grows more engaging through repeated hearings. Having some acquaintance with the music of a ballet makes it all the more thrilling when you experience it as part of a live performance.

Arrive early: Leave yourself time to find parking and to get to your seats and get comfortable. It is also nice to have a little time to read through the program before the performance.

Learn about the dancers: Just as sporting events are enhanced by knowing more about the athletes, so ballet can be made more enjoyable by learning something about the star dancers. You may even be able to collect autographs out in the lobby or by the stage door after the show.

Enjoy the show: Going to the ballet is a good excuse to dress in something more upscale than a t-shirt and running shoes. Make it a night on the town with an experience to the ballet followed by a trip to an establishment that has beverages and fine food.

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