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Goh Ballet's "The Nutcracker".

Clara and soldiers from the 2010 Goh Ballet Nutcracker. The Nutcracker,
A Goh Ballet Production
Choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Vancouver Opera Orchestra
Conducted by Leslie Dala
The Centre for  Performing Arts
Dec 15 to 18, 2011

Vancouver, BC: The Nutcracker has been a Christmas tradition for ballet companies all over the world for many years.  I remember way back as a child in Cape Town, being enthralled by the music and the fantastic visions on stage. That was an early event that led to my lifelong love of dance. Vancouver's Goh Ballet has established a tradition of its own with this year's show being the third  production of this version of the ballet. It has been a while since I have seen The Nutcracker, but it has lost none of its charm for me.  This production sparkled and I loved every minute of it.

Cast of the Goh Ballet NutcrackerWith some 200 children participating, from the adorable and very young Little Mice to the exquisite young lady,  Samara Rittinger who danced the role of Clara on opening night,  the company did a wonderful job of showing off the large groups of young performers.  I marveled at the ease with which the little ones were moved around the stage, giving each child a moment on stage that they will likely remember for ever.

The two acts of The Nutcracker are quite distinctive. Act One  is mainly set at the house of the Stahlbaum's and their children Clara and Fritz, who are hosting a Christmas Party. The magician, Drosselmeyer (played by BC illusionist Damien Carrier) brings Clara a wooden Nutcracker. After the party, Clara falls asleep holding her gift. Attacked by the Mice King and his army of little and giant mice, Clara is defended by toy soldiers led by her Nutcracker, who transforms into a Prince. Traveling through the Land of Snow, where the Snow Queen and King, and dancing snowflakes greet them, the arrive in the Kingdom of Sweets. This first act features most of the younger dancers, most of whom, their parts over, are then able to watch the second act.

Act Two features the two professional guest artists, current and former Principal Dancers of the American Ballet Company. Cory Stearns dances the role of Cavalier Prince and Michelle Wiles, the Sugar Plum fairy. They were lovely to watch and I wanted more. The older dancers as the various "sweets" performed dances in Spanish, Arabian, Chiinese and Russian styles  among others.  The  Dew Drop role and the Waltz of the Flowers were beautifully danced too.

I was impressed by the sets and costumes by Dinghao Zhang and Ming Li, and kudos to the stage crew who transformed the many settings with never a pause.

The Vancouver Opera Orchestra played and all that familiar music took me right back to my childhood. I loved it.  I was sorry that my little grand-daughter was not here to share this evening with me, but she will be going with her mother to see their local version of The Nutcracker. I bet she will love it too.