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Ballet Rogue stages the 'Nutcracker'

Ballet Rogue has performed the "Nutcracker" ballet since 1987. That's when the late Eric Hyrst choreographed the popular Russian ballet. Artistic Director Diane Gaumond Hyrst has produced Ballet Rogue's Nutcracker since 1996.

"We love 'Nutcracker' for its classic story and choreography, so we stay true to that," she said in a press release. "We honor Eric's choreography in Act I, but the production has evolved to keep it fresh. Along with new scenery and costumes, I make at least one major change each year."

This year Ballet Rogue will present four performances at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central, Medford.

This year's production will be enhanced by the new and rebuilt costumes under the care of costumer Nanci Eledge. Ballet Rogue publicist Pam Thomas explained that two years ago Ballet Rogue created its "Tutu Fund" to raise money for Nutcracker tutus for the dancers to wear in "Spanish," "Marzipan" and Polchinella." Enough funds were raised for 11 new tutus which will be seen in "Chinese" and "Waltz of the Flowers."

"I couldn't resist doing new choreography for Waltz's new tutus," Gaumond Hyrst said. "This year's audience will see the eight ballerinas dancing a contemporary style." Gaumond Hyrst also has created new choreography for the street scene, which opens the ballet, and for "Arabian," in Act 2. In the party scene, the guests will don new burnt orange, copper, chartreuse, and red dresses.

Ballet Rogue's production will be danced by a cast of 45 featuring local and professional dancers.

"The Nutcracker" ballet is based on the story "The Nutcracker and the King of Mice" written by E.T.A. Hoffman. In 1891 choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Peter Tchaikovsky to compose the music for Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of Hoffman's story. The first performance Dec. 18, 1892 was a complete failure. The composer, critics and audience disliked it.

In 1919, the Bolshoi Ballet performed the first "Nutcracker" in Moscow. In 1934, "The Nutcracker" had its first production outside of Russia. It was restaged by Nicholas Sergeyev and performed at the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London.

In 1940, a shortened version was performed in the United States. In 1954, choreographer George Balanchine created a new production of "The Nutcracker." Since then it has been the most widely performed ballet in the world.

Friday night's performance is Family Night and tickets for all seats are $16.50. Tickets for the Dec. 22-23 performances are $20.50, $24.50 and $26.50.

The fifth annual Children's Sugarplum Teas will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 22-23. The teas provide an opportunity for children of all ages to meet some of the "Nutcracker" dancers, including the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Participants enjoy tea and light refreshments, hear the "Nutcracker" story read aloud, and have their picture taken with one of the dancers. Tickets for the Children's Sugarplum Teas are $18 for adults and $12 for children.

Tickets are available at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater box office, on line at www.craterian.org or by calling 779-3000.

Ballet Rogue will present four performances of the ballet “Nutcracker.” (Photo by Beyond Images Photography)