Those in the know make it a point to see the Baltimore School for the Arts' production of "The Nutcracker." Not only does this school put on a terrific production, but it also provides the chance to see tomorrow's dance stars today.
These kids are dancers, and this production highlights their considerable gifts.
Choreographed by Lisa deRibere, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, "The Nutcracker" is not a stuffy production. The first-act party scene is filled with believable anecdotes between the characters, and the performers are so animated that it looks like a party you'd want to attend.
Most "Nutcracker" productions make the adults look sober and stern, and the children appear timid participants at best. Here, the adults initiate a dance that looks like a cross between a minuet and the Funky Chicken, and children readily take to the floor.
Ms. deRibere's ballet skillfully depicts the sibling rivalry between Marie and Fritz, who is given room to be an integral part of the story and is delightfully "full of the devil," as my Granny would say. The Silberhauses are optimistic parents who give their son a hatchet for Christmas. He terrorizes the maids, his sister and his parents, and he mugs for the camera when the family takes their holiday photo.
Aside from the strong characterizations, it is the dream quality of the work that holds our interest. Ms. deRibere skillfully creates an illusionary second act, as Marie's family members get all mixed up with the divertissements.
Herr Silberhaus dances with the Spanish girls, Herr Drosselmeyer appears with the Arabian dancer and brother Fritz appears with the Chinese dancers. This weaving of the familiar with the extraordinary makes the second act more than just a series of fancy dances.
In addition to the students, several guest artists and faculty members contributed performances of note. Stephen Smith, a BSA graduate and an Alvin Ailey alumnus, and Anton Wilson, formerly with Les Ballets Trockedero de Monte Carlo and a current BSA staff member, gave impressive performances as Russian dolls.
Jessica Miller as Marie and Michael Snipe as her consort were touching and technically right on, and Nicole Cornell as Dewdrop was simply a delight.
Where: Baltimore School for the Arts, Schaeffer Ballroom
When: Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 students
Call: (410) 783-5450