Princeton Youth Ballet to present ‘The Nutcracker’

Photo: princetonyouthballet.org
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Photo: princetonyouthballet.org

Princeton Youth Ballet (PYB) opens its 2019-20 season with “The Nutcracker” to be performed on Dec. 7 at 4 p.m. and Dec. 8 at noon (relaxed/sensory-friendly performance) and 4 p.m. at Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, 16 Walnut Lane, Princeton.

The relaxed/sensory-friendly performance features an abbreviated running time, moderated lighting and sound, and flexible seating arrangements for those with sensory sensitivities and families with very young children.

“The Nutcracker” is an icon of classical ballet repertory and a beloved holiday tradition for audiences around the world, but what many may not realize is that among the many vastly different productions (based on the century-old ballet by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman), most of the ballet’s choreographers have been men.

In fact, as many critics have noted, there are very few female choreographers in ballet. Along with that disparity comes a predictable shortage of true heroines in classical ballet. Most story ballets present fragile and demure fairytale characters, but ballets featuring young women with more substance are hard to find. “The Nutcracker’s” principal character, Marie, upsets the norm as a  “girl hero” who courageously saves the Nutcracker Prince from a villainous Mouse King, and by doing so breaks the curse of his imprisonment. To put it simply, she saves him, not the other way around.

Risa Kaplowitz’s version of “The Nutcracker” stays true to the original story with a few wonderfully imaginative revisions. The production is vivid, enchanting and affectionate, and the young artists of Princeton Youth Ballet are accomplished beyond their years. Kaplowitz’s experience as a former principal dancer and as a nationally prominent dance educator with the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum makes her remarkably fluent in the language of classical ballet. Her company continues to present strong, beautiful young dancers, many of whom go on to careers in the highest ranks of the professional ballet world.

“The Nutcracker” will feature a cast of 75 dancers, gorgeous projection backdrops created by Raymond DeVoe, and costumes designed or constructed by Beverly MacDonald, Barbara Osburn, Cathy Hazard and Rhode Island School of Design’s apparel major, Elizabeth Shevelev.

“PYB audiences can expect to see exceptionally skilled and passionate young dancers in our productions,” Kaplowitz said. “In choreographing ‘The Nutcracker,’ I kept asking myself what I would have liked to see brought to life as a young girl. The result satisfies my yearning for mystery, magic, courage and romance, and I think our audiences will feel the same.”

Experience this holiday tale of a brave young girl’s adventures with her Nutcracker as she rescues him from the Mouse King and they journey together into a Forest of Dancing Sugar Crystals and the indulgent Land of the Sweets. Accompanied by the familiar swells of Tchaikovsky’s iconic musical score, Princeton Youth Ballet’s full-length presentation of “The Nutcracker” is sure to deliver an inspiring dose of holiday magic.

Ticket prices range between $18-35, and are available at www.princetonyouthballet.org. For information about Princeton Youth Ballet and the company’s 2019-2020 season, visit www.princetonyouthballet.org.