Moscow Ballet performs "The Great Russian Nutcracker" at Bedell Performance Hall

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Moscow Ballet returns to Cape Girardeau on Monday for two performances of "The Great Russian Nutcracker," in Bedell Performance Hall.

This fairy-tale ballet was conceived by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1890 and 1891, and in the West the now-familiar ballet is almost always performed around Christmas time. The Moscow Ballet is based out of Boston. The company made its debut in 1993 with 27 performers coming from five former Soviet republics.

The story has been retold countless times on stage, on television and in print. No matter how many versions appear, the main theme of "The Nutcracker" remains the same: a young German girl, usually named Clara, receives a Nutcracker for Christmas from her godfather, but the girl's jealous brother breaks the toy. She goes to sleep and dreams that the Nutcracker is alive and helps him fight the evil Mouse King. When she awakes, her godfather has repaired the toy.

Professional dancers from the Moscow Ballet will perform the roles of Clara, the Nutcracker and other key characters, but smaller parts will be played by local children. Fifty students from Dance Extensions were chosen to be snowflakes, Arabians, mice, party guests and other secondary cast members.

The ballet company sent a soloist to Cape Girardeau early in the fall to select the local children, ages 8 to 12, and to teach them the parts.

"They've been practicing hard, as I understand, in preparation for working with the 40 Russian artists who will be coming to your community and putting it together when they arrive," Talmi said. "The children will already know the steps, will fit into the costumes and be made to look very beautiful and do a beautiful production together."

"The Great Russian Nutcracker" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Bedell Performance Hall. Tickets are $25 and $35 at River Campus Box Office, 651-2265, all MetroTix outlets, online at, keyword "nutcracker" or by calling 800-293-5949.

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