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Nutcracker Ballet

The cultural inclusive of the holiday season in US is the presentation of the Nutcracker ballet by myriad professional, writes Shalini Narang.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 19:23 IST

An intrinsic artistic and cultural inclusive of the holiday season in United States is the presentation of the Nutcracker ballet by myriad professional and amateur ballet companies and schools. From mesmerising professional presentations by large and famous companies like San Francisco Ballet and Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley to others in between, the Nutcracker ballet over the years has become synonymous with Christmas festivities and the yuletide spirit.

Every year, as a holiday tradition of sort, people look forward to this December cultural tryst and come together to enjoy the ballet in its various interpretations. In keeping with the custom, this season also several generations of families, friends and others dressed in their holiday best have come and will be coming for the next few weeks to the majestic War Memorial Hall in San Francisco to enjoy the performances of the classic presented by the San Francisco Ballet Company and similarly the San Jose Performing Arts centre is chock a block full of old and young, men and women, girls and boys rejoicing the holiday spectacle presented by the Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley.

The classical show is based on the beautiful story by German author ETA Hoffman. The tale comprises of an elaborate Christmas party in a well to do home replete with Christmas tree, presents, dancing and good cheer and the fantastical dream sequence that takes a young girl and her Nutcracker doll turned prince to myriad lands. Though the spectacular showcase of the tale by Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson of San Francisco Ballet is undoubtedly unmatched in ostentation and scale and brings forth glamour and glitz at its best and boasts some of the most decorated people like internationally recognised designer Michael Yeargan for scenery, Tony-award winning designer Martin Pakledinaz for costumes and James F Ingalls for lighting in its credits, yet the interpretation of the classic by Dennis Nahat of the Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley is no lesser in artistic merit and audience merriment and delight.

The holistic effort of the myriad members of the San Francisco and Ballet San Jose companies in presentation of these unforgettable visual treats is truly laudable. Months of hard work in preparation of these wholesome family entertainers leaves the pupils dilated at not only the solo and group dancing dexterity, synchronicity and stamina of the dancers but at the total impact produced via melodious music, elaborate set designs, extravagant costumes and excellent execution.

San Francisco Ballet Company founded in 1933 was America's first professional ballet company and is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States. It presents more than one hundred performances annually, both locally and internationally and holds the distinction of showcasing the first American production of Nutcracker in 1944.

Though the depiction of Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky ballet in the United States is less than 50 years, yet the number of the Nutcracker productions staged every year have gone up from one to one hundred and fifty. In one of the richest cultural exchanges of sorts, the Russian classic has become a quintessential American Christmas tradition replete with depiction of dances from various nations that are exemplary of the American melting pot.

Every year, the cast and choreography of Nutcracker ballets presented by these professional ballet companies are in flux. Newer and better stage setups and decorations, lighting and exquisite and extravagant costumes are complemented with melodious music, fluid dancing motions, perfectly synchronised routines and the global cultural showcase of sorts via Russian, Chinese and Arabian dances in the creatively choreographed pieces. These splendidly rehearsed and excellently executed memorable performances not only succeed in invigorating the milieu of festive joy and cheer but also leave one in awe of showcase of artistic beauty and performing arts display at its best, brightest and boldest. Here's wishing the holiday custom many, many more years…nay centuries of success and growth.