Tchaikovsky’s 120-year-old score infused with a touch of modern humor and a big helping of talent made “Nutcracker” a welcome holiday treat Saturday for a sold-out crowd at the Alberta Bair Theater.
No one could possibly have left the theater Saturday night without an appreciation for the effort it took to get 85 local girls prepared for 15 scenes with the professional San Diego Ballet dancers. The School of Classical Ballet’s Betty Loos and Julia Marble, with assistance by Krista Marshall, worked for months to rehearse the dancers, some of whom are as young as 5. There is one more performance to “Nutcracker” on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Head spinning pirouettes, cute kids in tutus and some of the world’s most familiar holiday music make the ballet an annual outing for many members of the Billings community. Even though the San Diego Ballet company has been to Billings several times, often using the same dancers, the choreography is tweaked each year. This time around, Mother Ginger slyly toyed with the audience while the Gingersnaps skipped in and out of “her” skirt. A male dancer traditionally plays Mother Ginger and he had fun spoofing Psy’s Gangnam’s Style.
The Billings Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Anne Harrigan, wasn’t visible on stage, but their obvious passion for Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous melodies was evident. One of the most memorable moments was the Snow Scene with 60 members of the Heights Honor Choir singing in the aisle and eight local dancers leaping across the stage while big snowflakes fell to the stage.
Particularly polished among the professional dancers were the tiny Plum Fairy, who was lofted effortlessly into the air by her Cavalier, and the power and ease of the Snow Queen’s performance.