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‘The Nutcracker’ embodies spirit of holiday season

It’s 1920s, Paris. Marie bolts for-ward and peers through the crowd of children, where her godfather, Drosselmeyer presents his finest toy—the beloved Nutcracker. Snow begins to fall and as the evening grows late, the Christmas Eve party comes to an end. Marie sneaks back out to the living room to grab her Nutcracker before falling asleep beside him.

The clock strikes midnight and strange things begin to happen. Marie finds herself in a battlefield of toy soldiers waging a losing war against baby rats. Finally, Marie’s Nutcracker comes to life to defend her from the evil Mouse King. The battle isn’t won, how-ever, until Marie takes off her shoe and throws it at the Mouse King, saving her Nutcracker and swiftly winning the battle for the toys. The Nutcracker, who turns into a Prince, takes Marie into an Enchanted Forest where they are greeted by dancing snowflakes.

“’The Nutcracker’ embodies the spirit of the Holiday Season, as it lets us experience the purity of life through the eyes of a young soul,” said Marcello Angelini, Tulsa Ballet artistic director.

Many Tulsans celebrate the holiday season with Tulsa Ballet’s presentation of “The Nutcracker.” The company has a few changes up its sleeves for Tulsa Ballet’s 60th anniversary.

There is new choreography in Act 1 of the children dances by Yi Wang, a past Tulsa Ballet principle dancer for more than five seasons. But one thing has always remained the same through-out the years—dancers don’t get a “proper holiday.”

Kaitlyn Gustin, ORU senior dance performance major, remembers long studio hours of “The Nutcracker” rehearsals at South Tulsa Children’s Ballet with nostalgia.

“I always loved being a part of the Nutcracker. It gave me a chance to become a character, meet new people and dance more than usual. It was my favorite time of the year growing up,” Gustin recalls. “I think this is one of the reasons why I absolutely loved being Marie. It had been a dream and desire of my heart since I was little… It was definitely the most fun I had over all the years I participated in the Nut-cracker. Of course, that meant six-hour rehearsals on both Saturdays and Sun-days.”

More than 14 years have passed since Tulsa Ballet changed “The Nutcracker,” and for the last three years it has set sales records. Angelini believes every “Nutcracker” has a finite life, and even this current edition is reaching the end of its era. While elegant, the production was a reflection to what the company was during the 70s and 80s. Angelini has hinted to Tulsa Ballet’s work on a newer production.

“One of the reasons ‘The Nutcracker’ has been so popular all over the world during the past 60 years is that there is something for everybody in this story,” said Angelini. “While the children in the audience will enjoy the party scene, the opening of the presents, the growing of the Christmas tree, the little mice and the Nutcracker soldiers, and the humorous fight between the two factions and their leaders, the adults in the audience will perceive the hidden message in this story, a mes-sage that goes way below the surface.  That message is of the struggle between good and evil, and that good always wins over evil.”