The Christmas season got off to a flying start for ballet fans in Moose Jaw and Regina as the Moscow Ballet presented the renowned production, The Nutcracker in Saskatchewan.
The touring company presented its Great Russian Nutcracker production at the Mosaic arena in Moose Jaw on November 17, attracting a crowd estimated at more than 1,500 strong. The production was in Regina at the Conexus Art Centre on November 19.
Coronach dancers, Adrianna Cote and Cassidi Elder were part of a youth cast of close to 100 dancers, both boys and girls, from Moose Jaw, Regina and the surrounding area. They joined the Russian performers on stage in a variety of parts. Auditions were held in August, and finalists were invited to fill supporting roles like party guests, mice, angels and snowflakes.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” explained Talmi, saying that the shows give young dancers the chance to perform alongside international talent. “We try to get as many kids involved as possible.”
Shauna Bzdel, ballet instructor for Moose Jaw’s Dance Images by BJ, said a total of 17 dancers from the city were part of the group. They have been rehearsing with Applause Dance Academy in Regina every weekend for close to three months.
“I think they’re all very excited,” she told the Times-Herald at the dress rehearsal. “It’s been a lot of preparation.”
Bzdel said the group was looking forward to performing in front of a hometown crowd. The dancers ranged in age from nine to 19. Costume fittings and rehearsals were held at Mosaic Place on Saturday afternoon, just a few hours before the show.
Adrianna, who is 10 years old, has been dancing for 7 years, and is currently dancing with Giselle’s Showtime Dance studio in Assiniboia, taking jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop, and stretch.
Adrianna was very proud to have performed in the Nutcracker performance.
“My part was a party guest. It was an awesome! Just seeing all of the professional dancers and the pointe shoes and stuff.” said Adrianna. Pointe shoes are a type of shoe worn by ballet dancers that enable dancers to dance on the tips of their toes. Adrianna is looking forward to reaching the age where she will use pointework in her ballet. Adrianna said the best part of the experience was “just getting to see all the professionals dancers and getting to actually be in the nutcracker.” Adrianna enjoyed all the practices, honing her skills and learning the new routine.
Grade 4 student, Cassidi Elder, has been dancing since she was five and is currently taking lyrical, acro, tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, musical theatre with Giselle’s Showtyme Dance in Assiniboia. Cassidia explained that she found out about the ballet opportunity at ballet summer camp in Regina. She said it was “good” and talked about how she couldn’t understand any of the professional dancers, as they all spoke Russian.
Although Cassidi said she would be up for doing this type of thing again, she did admit that she wasn’t that fond of driving to Regina every Sunday to practice.
Judy said, “I think her being out there with professional dancers was a great opportunity for her. Lot’s of time and hard work, and dedication in driving to Regina.”
Around 40 professional dancers took part in the performance, which utilized bright, colourful costumes, lavish, hand-painted backdrops, and Peter Tchaikovsky’s familiar score.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Moscow Ballet’s North American tours. Promoter Dan Talmi told the Moose Jaw Times Herald the company will present 100 performances this year in the U.S. and Canada, adding that the productions have continually changed over two decades.
“It’s just gotten bigger ... more moving parts, more drops,” he said.
Moscow Ballet is including stops in five Canadian cities during this year’s tour, including Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary and Windsor, Ont. Sponsors for Saturday’s show included the Times-Herald. For details on upcoming shows, visit nutcracker.com.