It’s ‘Nutcracker’ season

  • By Mike Murray / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, December 8, 2005 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Look into the family tree of “The Nutcracker” ballet and you find Russian roots.

A Russian (Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky), wrote the music. The choreography was created for a Russian czar. When the French choreographer Marius Petipa fell ill, the Russian dancer Lev Ivanov finished the work. “Nutcracker” premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892, and by the 1940s had arrived in America, where it’s been a holiday staple ever since.

“The Nutcracker”: Everett Symphony and Ballet Bellevue at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Everett Civic Auditorium, 2415 Colby Ave., Everett. $12-$32, 425-258-1605, and Everett Symphony ticket office, 2710 Colby Ave., Everett.

“Storybook Nutcracker”: Everett Dance Theatre production for children, 7 tonight, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, PUD Auditorium, 2320 California St., Everett. Tickets, $10-$12, 7207 Evergreen Way, Suite K, Everett; 425-348-5955,

Olympic Ballet Theatre: 2 p.m. Saturday and Saturday, Meany Hall, University of Washington, Seattle; 2 and 6 p.m. Dec 18 (sold out) and 7 p.m. Dec. 19, Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave., Everett; 425-774-7570.

Those Russian roots are showing in Ballet Bellevue’s new production of “The Nutcracker Ballet,” presented with the Everett Symphony in three performances this weekend at the Everett Civic Auditorium.

Viktoria Titova, the artistic director of the Bellevue-based professional ballet company, was born in Russia, where she began her dance career.

A former Bolshoi Ballet dancer, she is well known to local audiences as a performer, having danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy with Olympic Ballet Theatre’s production of “Nutcracker.”

She reprises that role with Ballet Bellevue, joining a cast of 16 dancers including several other Russian-trained dancers, in the company’s own version of “Nutcracker” that debuts Saturday.

The Everett Symphony’s “Nutcracker” shows have, for years, been presented with Olympic Ballet Theatre of Edmonds. But this weekend, OBT is dancing its “Nutcracker” in Seattle, so the Everett orchestra is partnering with Ballet Bellevue.

(Olympic Ballet will be back in Everett on Dec. 18 and 19 for performances of “Nutcracker” at the Everett Performing Arts Center. The Dec. 18 performances sold out, so the company added the Dec. 19 show.)

“We are very happy that we are going to perform with the Everett Symphony,” said Titova, who has developed a number of classical ballets for Ballet Bellevue including “Les Sylphides,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Swan Lake suite,” “Don Quixote” and scenes from “La Bayadere.”

The Russian tradition emphasizes the classical elements of ballet, the purity of the steps and line and the precision of the corps dancers.

Performing to live music (and Tchaikovsky wrote a ravishing score) lifts the dancers up as they feed off the energy of the music and the musicians, Titova said.

Ron Friesen, the symphony’s assistant conductor, will be at the podium for all three performances. A seasoned pro, he’s conducted “Nutcracker” with the orchestra for nine previous seasons.

Titova has fond memories of “Nutcracker” as a child in Russia.

“I remember when I was a little girl, it was always my favorite music and ballet,” she said.

“Nutcracker,” in fact, has a prime role for young girls in Clara, which will be danced by 13-year-old Julie Ortiz of Monroe. (Erin McEachran, a graduate of Pacific Northwest Ballet School, dances the role of the grown Clara).

Other leads include Jerome Tso as the Mouse King, and Arkadiy Ustyantsev of Moscow, former soloist, principal dancer and artistic director throughout Russia, as the Prince.

Dancing the role of Drosselmeier is former Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Oleg Gorboulev, a native of Tashkent, who performed with the Moscow Classical Ballet.

Natalie Dahlstrom dances Arabian Coffee and Lara Seefeldt performs as Chinese Tea.

“A Child’s Storybook – The Nutcracker”: Everett Dance Theatre has created a family tradition with the annual performances of “A Child’s Storybook – The Nutcracker,” a performance created especially for children.

The show features simple narration so that children can understand the story, and plenty of atmosphere including the magic of a growing Christmas tree, dancing dolls and the antics of the Mouse King.

Jennifer Greene, director of Everett Dance Theatre, and her staff have created an Everett traditional that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

There are performances today, Saturday and Sunday at the Snohomish County PUD Auditorium in Everett.

OBT “The Nutcracker”: Olympic Ballet Theatre is dancing its annual production of “The Nutcracker” in two performances this weekend at Meany Theatre at the University of Washington.

This fully staged production, choreographed by John and Helen Wilkins, has become a signature work of the Edmonds-based dance company. Over the years, the show has grown, just like its magic Christmas tree, to include additional scenes, costumes and sets.

Olympic Ballet has brought in a roster of guest artists including Andrea Long and Darius Crenshaw, former members of New York City Ballet, and Jennifer Banks, Peter de Grasse, Hannah Lagerway, Maika Misumi and Danielle P. Wilkins, from Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle.

OBT’s “Nutcracker” will be danced Dec. 18 and 19 at the Everett Performing Arts Center.

ABOVE: A scene from the Waltz of the Flowers by Ballet Bellevue.

LEFT: Julie Ortiz of Monroe dances the part of Clara in the “Nutcracker,” presented by the Everett Symphony and Ballet Bellevue.

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