Nutcracker ballet tradition continues in Cleveland

CLEVELAND - As Christmas approaches, an annual tradition for many Cleveland families is to catch a performance of The Nutcracker ballet. 

The annual tradition was previously performed by the Cleveland San Jose Ballet every year until the ballet discontinued their operations in Cleveland in 2000.  Luckily, since the ballet's departure, Cleveland has managed to attract a host of touring ballet companies, each offering their own rendition of the classic ballet set to the famous Tchaikovsky score of the same name. 

This year is no exception--in fact, Cleveland families have several options to choose from to see this holiday classic.

On Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. the Moscow Ballet brings their Great Russian Nutcracker to the Masonic Auditorium for the second year in a row.  This year's performance features 2009 International Ballet Competition (IBC) award-winning dancer Karyna Shatkovskaya as Masha (aka Clara) and Vladimir Tkachenko, honor graduate of the Perm School, as the Nutcracker Prince, along with a cast of 40 Russian dancers.

The Moscow Ballet's version of The Nutcracker is traditional, with a few interesting twists—one of the most remarkable parts of the show features two "acrobatic" ballet dancers who do a series of complicated lifts and tricks that leave the audience in complete awe.  The production features roughly 200 costumes, larger-than-life Russian puppets and 9 hand-painted backdrops that are embellished with 3-D effects. The Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker tour is in its 19 th year and is one of two companies annually visits more than 60 cities across North America.

Tickets for the Great Russian Nutcracker start at $28.50 and can be purchased online here: ticketmaster.com .

Opening on Thursday Dec. 8 and running through Sunday Dec. 11 the Royal Winnipeg Ballet from Canada will perform a traditional Nutcracker performance at Playhouse Square's State Theatre.  Show times are at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8-10 and 1 p.m. on Dec. 10 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 11.

The performance is unique because it is accompanied by a live local orchestra, which really adds a special element to the show.  The scenery for the show is top notch and ballet goers have the extra special experience of seeing a show in the stunning State Theatre of Playhouse Square, which is the largest theatre in Cleveland.

Tickets for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet's Nutcracker start at $10 and can be purchased online here: playhousesquare.org .

If you're looking for a not-so-traditional Nutcracker performance—the Beck Center's Dance Workshop and Dance Education program are performing Nutcracker…Jazzed Up! –a contemporary twist on the classic Tchaikovsky tale.

The Beck Center performances will be held on Saturday Dec. 3 and Sunday Dec. 4 in the Recital Hall of the Music-Armory Building at Beck Center. Show times on Dec. 3 are 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Dec. 4.

An ensemble of 60 dancers will tell the classic story of The Nutcracker in a nontraditional setting incorporating ballet, contemporary dance, hip hop, jazz, and tap.

This is this first year for this holiday production which features original choreography by Melanie Szucs, Beck Center's associate director of Dance Education, and fellow faculty members Louise Hadaway, Wannetta Scott and Mimi Schwensen.

Featured dancers include Alexandra Cassidy of Cleveland, Taylor Gerrasch of Rocky River, Julia Horner of Cleveland, Abby Schneider of Lakewood, Becky Steffen of Westlake, and Kelly Tomko of North Ridgeville.

Seating is reserved and tickets are $12 for adults/seniors and $10 for students/children 18 and under, including the service fee. Tickets are available by visiting beckcenter.org . Free onsite parking is available.

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