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Photo Courtesy of Houston Ballet

With a riveting and glittering performance of “The Nutcracker,” the Houston Ballet continues to spread holiday cheer all throughout the city. The traditional ballet strikes a chord with many families each year at The Brown Theater. Those who get to experience the enchanting performances are left with a sparkle in their eye and appreciation for Houston’s finest dancers.

“The Nutcracker” is a classical ballet composed by Tchaikovsky but derived from the infamous “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” written by E.T.A Hoffman. It’s been told time and time again through centuries but under the choreography of Stanton Welch Am, the costume and set artistry of Tim Goodchild and Conductor Ermanno Florio the story still manages to dazzle the audience in unique ways.

In collaboration with the Houston Ballet Orchestra, each velvet red chair in the theater holds a fully immersed viewer. 

This famous tale tells the whimsical Christmas story of a young girl Clara played by Monica Gomez and a gift bestowed upon her by a magician Drosselmeyer played by Riley McMurray. She is given The Nutcracker doll played by Naazir Muhammad. After a Christmas party in Clara’s family home, she visits the toy Nutcracker toy and finds her first encounter with a group of rat soldiers.

Soon enough she finds her way into the magical fantasy land, The Kingdom of Sweets where the Nutcracker turns back into a prince played by Chase O’Connell and reunites with his love, the Sugar Plum fairy played by Alyssa Springer. The evil rat king played by Eric Best has been defeated and the dancers celebrate with the Snow Queen played by Bridget Allinson-Kuhns and her entourage.

Through the vivacious creatures, bumblebees, butterflies, baby mice and more the Houston Ballet Dance Company provides a special memory for each viewer. The two-hour enthralling experience of “The Nutcracker,” passes by too quickly. Audible laughter from the crowd became a consistent feat. Soloists and members of the corps de ballet curated an infectious sense of humor in their dignified dancing.

The diverse casting for “The Nutcracker,” exemplifies one of Houston’s greatest attributes. There were solos throughout Act Two of a Spanish Bullfighter played by Gian Carlo Perez, the dancer paying homage to China played by Yumiko Fukada and an alluring mystic performance from the dancer representing the beauty of Arabian culture played by Yuriko Kajiya.

The inclusion of young children ballet dancers encourages the children in the audience to lean their heads a little closer to the stage. Full of vibrant costume designs, detailed set drops and intricately designed set props, “The Nutcracker” is a fantasy world made into a tangible place. Young and old hearts are bound to enjoy the long-established classic ballet.

The original well-known composition of Tchaikovsky is revived through the Houston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” With a seat in the house for each Houstonian, “The Nutcracker” brings reminders of the true holiday spirit with family, friendship and love. This heartfelt, radiant and entertaining ballet is a must- watch performance.

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