From November 26 through December 26, 2010, Houston Ballet once again presents its famous and ever-popular production of The Nutcracker, to an appreciative Houston audience.
The Nutcracker has a long and illustrious history with the Houston Ballet. It was the first full-length ballet to enter the permanent repertoire, when it was first performed in Jones Hall in 1972, in a staging by Frederic Franklin, with scenery and costumes by the English designer Peter Farmer. There were only six performances that year, but since then it has been danced by Houston Ballet every December for 38 years, up to and including the 2010 season, in which there are 34 performances, all accompanied live by the Houston Ballet Orchestra.
In 1976 the choreography was revised by artistic director Ben Stevenson, then in 1987 the production was completely revised with designs by Desmond Heeley, lighting by Duane Schuler, and choreography by Mr. Stevenson, into the form that we see today.
It has been a popular Houston holiday attraction from the very beginning, and since the new and wildly successful updated production was unveiled in 1987, over 1,000,000 joyful holiday viewers have enjoyed the colorful, fun, exciting, and wistfully nostalgic family entertainment that is, The Nutcracker.
This year there are a few notable firsts for the production, including:
– Chinese principal dancer Jun Shuang Huang debuts as the Prince in The Nutcracker for the first time ever.
– Soloists Karina Gonzalez and Melissa Hough give their first performances as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Snow Queen in Houston.
– Lauren Ciobanu gives her first appearance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Houston, with Peter Franc and Charles Louis-Yoshiyama debuting as the Prince.
Opening Night of The Nutcracker was a joy to behold, and a reminder of why families have used this familiar production to introduce young children, and other family members to ballet, and quite often, for very the first time.
The costumes and sets were as exciting and wonderful as ever, the familiar Tchaikovsky melodies were beautifully played by the Houston Ballet Orchestra, and the many varied dancing and acting talents of the entire company, including the new leads for this season, were as refreshing and entertaining as one comes to expect from this classic ballet, and perennial Houston favorite.
Sitting in the audience of The Nutcracker, watching each successive, masterfully danced and musically colorful scene pass on to the next, causes an unstoppable smile to form on your face, and a tingling feeling of delight just to be there.
The best way of describing attending The Nutcracker by Houston Ballet is that…it is like opening a large holiday box of wonderful assorted chocolates, except that instead of having to choose just one…you get to eat them all.
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