On its 18th tour of the U.S., the ensemble is one of the three remaining ballet companies to receive Russian government support. It performs regularly in more than 200 Russian cities and brings the classic Russian ballet tradition to more than 30 countries worldwide. International competitions have earned this brilliant dance company more than 15 gold medals plus three prizes from the Paris Academy of Dance.
Originally known as the Young Ballet, the USSR State Choreographic Company, the troupe was established 1966. Its mission was to bring traditional Russian classical ballet to the Soviet Union and foreign countries. The company was renamed the Moscow Classical Ballet in 1986.
The 40-dancer company is world-renowned for its costumes and showmanship. Its Dec. 2 presentation of The Nutcracker in Morgantown, WV, featured large puppets and hand-painted 3-D effect backdrops.
This 1892 ballet is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nutcracker and the King of Mice. This version by Moscow Classical Ballet’s Chief Choreographer Anatoly Emelianov has an interesting twist: Even though the basic plot remains unchanged in all versions, the choreography in this one is inspired by the original story’s revision by Frenchman Alexandre Dumas, author of such novels as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.
It may come as a surprise to some that Tchaikovsky’s music did not determine the original choreography of the ballet. In fact, Tchaikovsky was given strict instructions on composing the music. It was as though choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov demanded that the composer write so many measures of this kind of music and so many measures of that kind of music. Given those strictures, it’s astounding how brilliantly and excitingly the music for the ballet turned out. Especially dramatic is how Tchaikovsky’s score sets the tone for the “horror” fantasy which follows once the guests leave in Act 1. Especially noteworthy is the use of the celesta in the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy."
When The Nutcracker premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, it was not a hit. However, the 20-minute ballet suite was an enormous success, and the ballet has been hugely popular since the mid-1900s. It is performed by numerous ballet companies, particularly for the Christmas season.
Robert Friedman Presents The Moscow Classical Ballet: The Nutcracker at the Valley Performing Arts Center, Dec. 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. For tickets and information, go to valleyperformingartscenter.org/calendar/view/2011-12-14.