The holiday season is upon us, and for many, the highlight is when toy soldiers, Sugar Plum Fairies, and dancing mice come alive in “The Nutcracker,” accompanied by the beloved music of Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The Academy of Russian Classical Ballet brings its “Nutcracker” to the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts for one performance Saturday.
This performance marks the 10th production of the ballet for the Wixom-based Academy.
“It’s a really popular ballet with families around the holidays,” says Jessica Rayevskiy, the Academy’s artistic director. “It gets everybody into the Christmas spirit.”
The ballet tells the story of one Christmas Eve when a little girl named Clara receives a gift that comes to life when she falls asleep, and a whole new world opens up.
With a ballet that is more than 100 years old and an annual tradition the world over, the company makes updates to the production each year to keep it fresh. “This year, we have a lot of new costumes and new props,” she says. “We’ve also changed the choreography up a bit.”
The first company to perform the ballet was the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892. The production came with choreography by 19th century ballet dancer-choreographers Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Vasily Vainonen.
“We have kept a lot of the original choreography, and we re-staged portions of our production this year to include choreography by Yuri Grigorovich, from the Bolshoi Theatre’s version, just to make our production unique for us.”
The storyline the Academy performs is a bit different: the Sugar Plum Fairies are missing. Taking their place is a grown up Clara, who dances the pas de deux.
The dancers are Academy students, along with two professional dancers, Cervillo Amador as the Prince, and Janessa Touchet as the adult Clara, both from the Cincinnati Ballet.
Academy students 16-year-old Ciara Brennan from Orchard Lake and Erin Suchara, also 16 from West Bloomfield, have both danced in the production for four years. They each love it for different reasons.
“It’s one of the reasons why I began to like dance,” says Brennan, who has been dancing for 14 years. “It was one of the first productions I saw and it drew me to start taking dance classes.”
“It’s a classic,” offers Suchara, also a dancer of 14 years. “And I also like the story of it because it revolves around Christmas, which is one of my favorite holidays.”
The Russian Classical Ballet ‘Nutcracker’
7 p.m. Saturday
Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts
350 Madison, Detroit