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The Los Angeles Ballet's "The Nutcracker" Is Fun And Festive

Helen Carefoot |
December 21, 2014 | 6:07 p.m. PST

Web Producer

Allynne Noelle and Ulrik Birkkjaer perform as Marie and Her Prince (Photo by Reed Hutchinson)
Allynne Noelle and Ulrik Birkkjaer perform as Marie and Her Prince (Photo by Reed Hutchinson)
Seeing “The Nutcracker” is a popular holiday tradition for many, but this fun and fetsive event is sometimes, or in the words of my 13 year-old brother, "a snooze-fest." Luckily The Los Angeles Ballet’s lively, beautiful and quickly-paced production of “The Nutcracker” does not disappoint.

As the lights go down, the stage opens on young Clara (Dylan Burford) and her brother Fritz (Hudson Treadwell), who are preparing for their family's annual Christmas party. The children are wondering what their Uncle Drosselmeyer (Zheng Hua Li), who is a clockmaker and inventor, will gift them for Christmas. When Uncle Drosselmeyer arrives, he gives the children beautiful dancing dolls and presents Clara with a special Nutcracker.

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Clara is transported into a land of dreams where her dolls come to life and dance for her. This portion of the production contains the bulk of the dancing, as the various dolls perform for Clara.

What makes this production stand out are several incredible soloists, especially Allynne Noelle, who plays Clara's doll Marie. Noelle's tightly executed steps and elegant appearance mesmerized the audience. Mother Ginger (Ann Haskins) and her Hansels and Gretels (adorable young dancers Emily Baghramian, Victor Moctezuma Derycz, Amorette Marcus, Fanelly Prenot, Kayla Solomon, Hudson Treadwell, Julia Weinstock) were a highlight as the children scurried out of a moving gingerbread house to perform an adorale partner dance. The Arabian dolls (Julia Cinquemani and Alexander Castillo) were a huge highlight and drew thunderous applaise from the audience as Castillo lifted Cinquemani during a beautiful partner sequence. Twisting her body into awe-inspiring contortions, Cinquemani had the audience riveted. The Waltz of the Flowers sequence was especially beautiful and showcased Alyssa Bross' beautiful dancing as The Rose.

The lack of a live orchestra was a little disappointing given how magnificent the venue was, however the quality of the production made up for it. The costumes (designed by Mikael Melbye) were beautiful, particularly during the Snow Dance, where the shimmery white costumes stood out beautifully against the snow coming down on the stage. The choregraphy (by Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary) was intricate and interesting. Catherine Kanner's sets were visually pleasing, but not over the top enough to compete with the dancing. Sometimes the pace of this ballet can drag, but this production moved along quickly so the audience was never bored.

All in all, the Los Angeles Ballet's "The Nutcracker" is a fun and traditional way to ring in the holiday season. Rest assured, with it lively dancing and beautiful scenery, this ballet will have each audience member on the edge of his seat, not asleep in his chair. 

“The Nutcracker” is playing on Dec. 20 and 21 at UCLA’s Royce Hall (340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles) and at Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center (1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach) on Dec. 27 and 28. Tickets start at $31. Tickets for the Royce Hall shows are available at RoyceHall.org or by phone at (310) 825-2101 and tickets for the Redondo Beach shows are available at Tickets.LosAngelesBallet.org

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