The Nutcracker takes the Englert stage for a holiday delight

Nolte Academy and The Englert hosted a performance of The Nutcracker this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Naomi Hofferber, Arts Editor

The low hum of the orchestra began, everyone getting in tune, as the crowd slowly fell silent. The purple, velvety curtain slowly rose as the orchestra jumped to life, impeccably launching the story of The Nutcracker.

This past weekend, Englert and Nolte Academy hosted The Nutcracker, the traditional Christmas ballet, with new twists such as new costuming, new sets, and new choreography. Over 150 dancers leaped a crossed the stage at Friday, Saturday, and Sunday performances.

The performance was incredibly pleasant; dancers of all ages moved fluidly to the almost machine-like precision of the orchestra, from the smallest ballerinas, dancing in Land of Sweets as small chefs, to the older ones, eloquently leaping and spinning to the swell of the strings.

Despite Tchaikovsky’s musical masterpiece being nearly 126 years old, the Englert performance championed unexpected twists, that kept a sense of whimsy and anticipation throughout both acts, starting with the main character, Clara, entering a dream world. The realistic backdrop of a wood wall clad in wreaths was lifted up and away, as was an entire Christmas tree, which grew into almost double its size. At one point during the performance, the Iowa City Girls’ Choir chimed in from the balcony; heads craned to find the sound coming from up above.

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Clara’s godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, played by Kris Kroona, kept the magic flowing throughout the ballet, quite literally with a slinky black and purple magician’s cape. With a handful of glitter here and there, he transformed worlds and accompanied Clara throughout her adventures; his melodramatic flair matching the drama of the musical accompaniment.

The Nutcracker proved to be an event for all ages; the full and bustling theater consisted of everyone from a small baby babbling quietly throughout the performance to mature members enjoying a drink at the Saturday matinee. The beauty and grace of the dancers, the flawlessness of the orchestra, and the whimsy of the story were, in a word, pleasant. The entrancing weekend delight was capable of getting the nastiest Grinch in the holiday spirit, if not getting the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy stuck in their head.