Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker takes Detroit


Illuminating the dark, clouded sky, Detroit’s Fox Theater welcomed hundreds of guests to see the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker on December 17. Known as a traditional Christmas tale, the Nutcracker was brought to life through elegant ballet dancing, complemented by the harmonious music of the symphony, presented through the Russian version of the famed story. The Fox Theater on Woodward Ave. served as an appropriate place to host the event, as its beautiful architecture and plentiful Christmas decorations captured the true essence of the performance, elegant and full of holiday spirit.

Guests of all kinds were seen waiting for the performance to begin in the lobby of the theater dressed in their Sunday best. The diversity of the crowd spoke to the Nutcracker’s popularity, for families with small children were seen as well as couples and friends of all ages. The glittering costumes of the dancers instantly drew one into the performance, bouncing up and down as performers started the show. The plethora of colors on the flouncing tutus and floating capes gave an immediate vibrancy to the show not even before it began.

The first scene depicted a toy maker, named Uncle Drosselmeyer, who was putting final touches on his magical dolls. A quick transition of both lighting and backdrops revealed a ballroom filled with couples waltzing elegantly at Mayor Stahlbaum’s holiday party around the stage while being fawned over by their children. Interrupting the waltz, Uncle Drosselmeyer puts on a show with his newly created toys, amazing the young boys and girls, especially the mayor’s children, Masha and Fritz. So taken was Masha with the toys that Drosselmeyer bequeathed to her a nutcracker, who only after being presented to her minutes prior, was broken by Fritz’s mischievous ways.

Heartbroken, Masha enters into a deep sleep after the day’s events, dreaming about her nutcracker alive and well. Not only was he fixed, but fighting off the Rat King and his evil rodent pack to protect Masha.Escaping the clutches of the King, the Nutcracker and Masha retreat to the Snow Forest, meeting Russian Father Christmas “Ded Moroz” and Snow Maiden “Snegurochka” along the way, until they reach the Land of Peace and Harmony. There, they meet emissaries from France, Arabia, Spain, and China, who all honor them with their traditional cultural dances.

Awoken by the chiming of the grandfather clock behind her, Masha wakes to see a repaired nutcracker and hugs it fondly, remembering her euphoric dream. In both acts one and two, the dancing of the cast enraptured the audience and although having no words, expressed and displayed the story perfectly. It was almost unnecessary to read the brief summary of the story printed on the back of the program, for the performance conveyed it precisely though dance.The dancing of each cast member was nothing short of spectacular. Not only were each of their moves simultaneous and timed to perfection, but the elegance of the ballet that was shown in each scene truly left the audience in awe. Both women and men would leap high into the air, yet land gracefully and without a sound in each and every move.

The Nutcracker’s choreography was also intriguing, for a scene filled with intensity and anger conveyed through the music was portrayed so, but did not stray from the classical, gentle movements of the ballet genre.

Although the ballet dancing was the highlight of the magnificent show, the classic music of the Nutcracker truly polished the performance. Looking around during the performance, one could see numerous adults bobbing their head to the chords of the violin and young girls and boys bouncing in the seats to the sound of the piano.

When Christmas rolls around next year and you find yourself yearning for holiday entertainment, take a trip to downtown Detroit and attend the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker for a spectacular story and performance sure to please anyone.