Nico Stoerner, Staff Writer

As the show begins, you know that something special is on the way.

Having performed in the Nutcracker before myself (although never with the Atlanta Ballet), I had in my mind a certain number of expectations to begin with – but I can honestly say that the Atlanta Ballet went above and beyond anything I could have ever anticipated.

The work they did with master illusionist Drew Thomas shows, as their set, props, and special effects are on par with touring shows from Broadway. Set pieces levitate, characters appear and disappear without a hitch, innovative lighting highlights the stage, and the scenery is both beautiful and unique to any production of the Nutcracker that I have ever seen. The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra provide a magnificent soundtrack to the story with the help of the Georgia Youth choir, and the choreography by John McFall incorporates contemporary touches while remaining true to the traditional performance style.

Photo: AtlantaBallet.com

The story follows tradition with the mystifying Drosselmeyer invoking dreams and the young heroine of our story Marya discovering a beautiful land of living toys, naughty mice, cute lambs, and the terrifying Rat King. Showcasing a number of different performances from various cultures around the globe, every performance and piece were complimentary and of the highest caliber. As well, the pas de deux following the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies was simultaneously awe-inspiring and breathtaking.

The reinvention of the holiday classic included some contemporary touches including pop moves from disco to hip-hop, the combination of which allowed for patrons both young and old to identify with and enjoy the show. With comedic moments interjected from the bumbling mice, the adorable lambs, and the Russian dancers, as well as the hilarious effects of Mother Matrushka’s big skirt – a performance meant to resemble Russian nesting dolls, with children appearing from beneath her 25 yard skirt to perform. Even better? “Mother Matrushka’s” antics from 15 feet in the air are reminiscent of a drag performance and include lots of laughs as she flirts with the audience. It definitely made for a lovely highlight and brought smiles to everyone in attendance.

A classic show made contemporary, this is a performance you simply cannot miss. Be sure to take a brisk walk to the Fox after dinner this holiday season and see this spectacular production.

*Special Thanks: Sigele Winbush, The Atlanta Ballet

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