Friday, December 14, 2012

‘The Nutcracker’ stirs holiday spirit

By Paul Schmitt
Cardinal Staff

Holiday spirit filled the Page Theatre with the showing of “The Nutcracker” by the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts’ Dance Repertory and Saint Mary’s University’s Department of Theatre and Dance.

The ballet ran from Wednesday, Nov. 28, through Sunday, Dec. 2, and sold out almost every night.  It included over 100 cast and crew members of all ages from SMU, the Winona area community and Wisconsin who have all worked diligently on the production since August.

Hannah Schwarze, SMU sophomore who was one of the dancers in the ballet, said a typical week for her included 12 hours of rehearsals for what she considered “a light role.”  Schwarze said, “Ballet is one of the hardest things you can make your body do because it goes against your anatomy completely.”

The hard work paid off in the end with a ballet production that got many people excited for the Christmas season.  Kathleen Bryant, stage manager for the show, said that the story of the ballet, in which a girl named Clara saves the life of the Nutcracker prince from the Rat Queen, “brings out a lot of the human kindness that the holiday season entails.” She added that this sentiment is part of the reason the ballet has become a holiday tradition for many.

It would seem that another major factor in the longevity of “The Nutcracker” tradition is its communal nature.  For Joelle Harris, managing director at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, the sense of family and the fact that there is something for everyone to enjoy in the ballet is what she admires about it.  Whether one goes for the sugar plum fairies or the Russian dancers, it’s the gathering of friends and family that keeps audiences coming back.  

“‘The Nutcracker’ is like the tree-topper on the Christmas tree,” said Harris. “While the whole thing is good already, it is the perfect piece that brings it all together.”  

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