Dressed for the Holidays: How We Attended The Nutcracker Dress Rehearsal at Boston Ballet
“Why do you keep wanting to see The Nutcracker after so many times?”
Vi, 7: “It’s because each time they do it better!”
Indeed, attending The Nutcracker at Boston Ballet is our city’s (and ours!) beloved holiday tradition. This season marks the fifth anniversary of Mikko Nissenen’s (Boston Ballet’s Creative Director) lighter and shorter version of Tchaikovsky’s 19th century holiday classic (prior versions have been performed by Boston Ballet for at least 20 years!). The very first Nutcracker ballet was staged by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov for Maryinsky Theater of St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892.
Our Nutcracker holiday memories will be even more special this year as my daughter and I were invited to attend the Dress Rehearsal which happened on the same day as the season’s November 25th opening performance.
“How was the dress rehearsal different from a regular performance night?”
Vi: “They sometimes made mistakes, which they cannot do during the real show…and even if they did make mistakes, they would go on!”
Attending a dress rehearsal at the Boston Ballet is one of the best things about being a blogger. It truly is a privilege to see the act of artistic creation – right in front of you. There are no “show stopping” corrections happening during the dress rehearsal -so it feels like a regular performance, complete with full sets and costumes (by Robert Perdziola, who also designed Boston Ballet’s Swan Lake). But the front of the theater is empty and it feels almost intimate – as if the artists are dancing just for you. You could also see (and occasionally hear) Mikko Nissinen and his crew of ballet masters and stage staff exchanging last minute production observations. And then it becomes even more “real” after the curtain call, when the staff climbs on stage with the dancers for the “in-person” corrections.
The 43-performance run of the Nutcracker is the longest-running production in the Boston Ballet’s season; it includes the full company of 57 dancers, 13 Boston Ballet II dancers, and 224 Boston Ballet School students. There will be many dancer debuts in new roles, as well as the opportunities to dance as soloists and principals.
My daughter loved posing with the dancers at the intermission.
… and here she is on stage:
It is interesting to see how kids notice different details each time they see the show. Last year my daughter surprised me by remembering that the snow flakes in the famous Snow Scene will start falling “on the count of ten”. And this year she remembered the exact order of folk dances in the second act: “It is how they have lined up!” she explained. (Mother Ginger and the little clowns hiding under her skirt are still her favorites.)
The Nutcracker is based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It is a perfect starter ballet, and is recommended for kids five and older (infants younger than two are not allowed into the theater and everyone requires a ticket). If you need a refresher on the synopsis, read the full story here as you may want to prepare the little ones for what they will see on stage.
This year’s run in Boston Opera House is through December 31. The show is approximately two hours with an intermission. For tickets and performance times, go to Boston Ballet’s web page.