Getting dressed up and then bundled up to venture out into the weather to see The Nutcracker with family, friends ,or a date during the Christmas season is a tradition as uplifting, rich, and satisfying as a mug of eggnog. So, I enticed my seventy year-old lady-friend to join me at The Center for The Arts at George Mason University in determining whether or not the The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker fulfilled the recipe.
Valentin Federov, who is also the puppet designer, dressed the stage with elaborate backdrops that elicited a squeal of delight from my date. They were practically a show within themselves – as she mused of love with which each one was made. “Fantastical!,” she exclaimed. And the costumes, designed by Arthur Oliver, mesmerized the seasoned seamstress so that she bubbled about them the whole way home. She simply adored all of them. And when the lights, designed by Michael Wonson, played upon the stage, she would gasp and give breath to the child still alive and well inside of her.
Olga Kifyak plays Masha, the Stahlbaum girl, who falls in love with The Nutcracker. She is a polished and powerful ballerina whose grace and poise was stirring through the whole show. Her solo to Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy was so beautiful, so stunning, so extraordinary – I felt myself transforming into a little girl spellbound by her prance. Viktor Shcherbakov dances with impressive splendor as the Nutcracker Prince. His prowess was magnificent to watch. He leapt from reality into fantasy as he seemed to fly and float across the stage in the “Angels’ “ piece. It was magical.
Anastasia Kazakova, as the Kissy Doll and the French Variation, is the idealized ballerina. She is so captivating to watch, I found myself intoxicated every second she graced the stage. For the very first time in my life, I understood the heart of a little girl wanting to be a ballerina. Longing to be that ballerina. She, I think, is the physical manifestation of every Daddy and little girls dream. Dmitriy Pelmegov, as the Harlequinn Doll and the Chinese Variation, was extraordinary in his ability to bring a vibrancy and life to his every measure, as if the music that moved him spouted from somewhere within.
Elena Petrachenko and Sergey Chumakov, as the Dove of Peace and the Arabian Variation, transcended the discipline of ballet and stole our breath in amazement. They were unnaturally fascinating, supple and beautiful. So much so, that you could literally feel and hear the audience try and catch their breath in anticipation that it would be snatched whenever they entered the stage. They brought an astonishing supernatural force to the show that filled the auditorium with a live wire of excitement.
Every ballerina in this company is joy to behold. Without the masterful performance of each and every unmentioned name – it wouldn’t have been the masterpiece it Is. They were all magnificent. The performance was as near to perfect as it gets. As for the eggnog recipe – The Moscow Ballet definitely has a delicious recipe worth imbibing. But they clearly spike theirs with something mysterious – as upon leaving, my date and I felt like children all dressed up in our Mother’s clothing.
Running Time: Approximately two hours, with a fifteen-minute intermission.
The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker ended its perormances at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on December 20, 2012. Here is a calendar of future events at The Center for the Arts. Here is the Moscow Ballet’s touring schedule.