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Annual Holiday Favorite, Nutcracker for Kids, Comes Vividly to Life as Pacific Symphony, Dazzling Dancers, a Gallant Prince and a Sugar Plum Fairy Tell Tchaikovsky’s Enchanted Tale!
Orange County, Calif. — November 09, 2016
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Pacific Symphony and dancers from Festival Ballet Theatre (FBT) soon fill the stage with the beauty and wonder of the holiday season for “Nutcracker for Kids,” a condensed version of one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballets. Mesmerizing audiences year after year with the sweet melodies, captivating dancers and brilliant imagination of this treasured tale, the Symphony’s annual event is always an audience favorite. The orchestra, led by Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, along with lovely young dancers and Mrs. Claus as narrator (played by Bree Burgess Rosen), bring the beloved story of Clara and her brave prince to life! Tchaikovsky’s melodies soar throughout the epic battle with the Mouse King, the Land of Sweets, Waltz of the Flowers and the captivating Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
And to spread even more holiday cheer, this Family Musical Mornings concert, presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank, includes a holiday sing-along and an appearance by the jolly old red-suited fellow himself, Santa Claus! This 45-minute concert is especially suited for children ages 5-11, but enjoyed by parents, grandparents and everyone else. It takes place Saturday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $45-$70; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
“‘The Nutcracker’ has been a holiday favorite for as long as I can remember, and there are a number of reasons for that,” says Maestro Kalia. “Not only is it one of the greatest musical masterpieces ever written, but also the visual aspect of watching the dancers on stage with the orchestra is a wonderful sight. Typically, the orchestra is in a pit, but for this production the wonderful Pacific Symphony will be center stage. And the stage will be decorated to really capture the holiday spirit. We will also perform holiday favorites where we encourage the audience to sing along with us. Selections will include the ‘Dreidel Song,’ ‘Jingle Bells,’ and ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’”
Even more merriment waits at the Musical Carnival, where carolers and the Northwood High School Tuba Ensembles join in the fun, beginning at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert). Children and families are invited to participate in a special holiday craft, meet ballerinas from FBT and browse the ballet museum. Percussion instruments are in the “spotlight,” and children and family members have the chance to mingle and ask questions of some of the Symphony and Youth Ensembles musicians about their instruments.
“The music is absolutely extraordinary in ‘Nutcracker,’ and Tchaikovsky captures a wide range of emotions throughout the ballet,” remarks Kalia. “For me, ‘Nutcracker’ is in a league of its own and I never tire of conducting this fabulous work. The music has become universally known and has been featured in popular culture, such as in movies and commercials. I’m sure that our audience members will recognize a number of tunes. Many of those hearing this work for the first time will be enthralled and inspired by not only the music, but by the beautiful choreography and costumes of the dancers.
“I also enjoy the storyline very much, and for this particular production, Mrs. Claus will narrate the entire work and be a focal character in the story,” Kalia continues. “I look forward to introducing this masterpiece to the many young audience members who will be hearing this work for the first time.”
Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet was adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and over time has come to be an annual holiday tradition throughout America. The timeless tale, written in 1816, centers around a young girl named Clara. Her Uncle and Godfather, a toymaker, arrives at her family’s Christmas Eve party and gives her a special doll, the Nutcracker, which makes all the other children jealous. As the story develops, Clara finds herself in an uncharted world where toy soldiers and their brave leader, the Nutcracker, battle the despicable Mouse King and his army of followers. This classic battle has children on the edge of their seats as Tchaikovsky’s memorable music, performed live, fills the air with wonder. Then, dancers twirl and glide across the stage to the renowned “Waltz of the Flowers” and the enchanting “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
“Working with dancers is always a thrilling experience, and the Festival Ballet Theatre is one of the finest companies in Orange County,” says Kalia. “I really enjoyed working with them last season, and I was amazed at the level of talent from all of the dancers. Tchaikovsky captures the sprit and essence of each dance wonderfully, and I am looking forward to seeing how the Festival Ballet Theatre will interpret these various dances for this production.”
A highlight of the performance takes place when the characters visit the Land of Sweets and are spellbound by dances of Spain (Chocolate), Russia (Candy Canes), China (Tea), as well as the Dance of the Reed Flutes. There, Clara and the prince are greeted by the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and are led into a romantic “pas de deux,” dance for two, to conclude the grand festivities. Spoiler alert! In the end, good trumps evil as the Nutcracker amazes Clara by transforming into a prince and saving her from the grasps of the Mouse King!
Through the grace and elegance of dance, children are transported into a world of movement and art as they watch the skill and poise of professional ballet dancers. Under the direction of Salwa Rizkalla since its founding in 1988, FBT has become one of Southern California’s most vibrant and accomplished professional ballet companies. FBT is dedicated to presenting works that epitomize the artistry of professional-quality ballet, offering cultural awareness of dance through educational programs, and nurturing a creative environment for some of the county’s most talented dancers. FBT’s significant work has been recognized with a 2001 Arts Orange County Award for Outstanding Arts Organization of the Year.
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