Parkland Press

Friday, September 20, 2019
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMoscow Ballet, “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 9, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMoscow Ballet, “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 9, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMoscow Ballet, “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 9, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMoscow Ballet, “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 9, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.

Moscow Ballet ‘Nutcracker’ promotes peace, harmony

Friday, December 7, 2018 by CAMILLE CAPRIGLIONE Special to The Press in Focus

Praised as a breathtaking and lavish holiday experience, the Moscow Ballet presents “The Great Russian Nutcracker,” 2 and 6 p.m. Dec. 9, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.

The technically-superb dancers of the Moscow Ballet, trained in the Vaganova method, are hand-chosen from around the world. With 40 dancers, stunning choreography, beautiful hand-painted sets, a magical winged clock and 60-foot Christmas tree, the spectacular production is an event not to be missed.

The ballet, in two acts, follows Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s complete “Nutcracker Suite” score. It is the tale of young Masha, who receives a nutcracker doll from the mysterious Drosselmeyer. The nutcracker comes to life, turning into a prince who fights the Mouse King.

Masha journeys with her prince to the “Land of Peace and Harmony,” where there are dances from around the world and a “Waltz of the Flowers.” Masha and the Prince perform a “Grand Pas de Deux” in the final scene. Divertissements include the Trepak (Russian dance,) Spanish, Chinese and the exquisite Arabian dance.

Alexandre Dumas Père’s adaptation of the story premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the last 75 years, the ballet has become one of the most popular holiday performances. The Moscow Ballet has performed the Nutcracker in the United States and Canada since 1993.

“The Great Russian Nutcracker” promotes dedication to world peace and cultural and international unity, thus naming Act II “Land of Peace and Harmony.” The Dove of Peace scene consists of two dancers who create a dove with a 20-foot wingspan. Ten-foot-high puppets and a Christmas tree that grows in place are a delight for children.

In a phone interview, ballerina Maria Morari says she is thrilled to perform in the Party Scene and the Snow Scene. Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Morari has been with Moscow Ballet since 2017 when the company began its 25th anniversary tour of North America.

“I have been dancing since I was five-years-old,” says Morari.

She began her professional career as a ballerina with the National Theatre for Ballet and Opera in Chișinău. She worked with Gedeminas Taranda in the Imperial Russian Ballet Company and toured with the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre of Marina Medvetskaya.

Morari has also performed with the Moldovan National Theatre of Opera and Ballet in “Maria Biesu,” touring Canada, Germany and Spain. She has performed the classic Russian ballet repertoire, including “Swan Lake,” “Giselle” and “Coppelia.”

Playing the role of the Nutcracker Prince is Mykhailo Shcherbakov, who says, “This is my third tour as a Moscow Ballet member and first year as audition director.”

Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, Shcherbakov, previously played Masha’s brother, Fritz, and performed in the French dance in “Nutcracker.”

In 2008, he joined the Kiev Municipal Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet for Children and Youth and by 2009, became a principal dancer there. He graduated from the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University. Shcherbakov has traveled worldwide, performing with ballet companies.

Shcherbakov says the “Nutcracker” is a fairytale for everybody: “[It] has a lot of special scenes, which helps the audience feel the beauty of this performance.”

Student dancers audition to perform with the Moscow Ballet on its tour. This provides exciting, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for ballet students who want to work with professional dancers.

This year, the host studio for the Moscow Ballet performance at the State Theatre is the Pennsylvania Classical Ballet Academy, Northampton. Auditions took place in September and 33 youths from the Lehigh Valley are to play roles such as party children, mice, snowflakes and snow maidens in the State Theatre “Nutcracker” performances.

“[The children] make shows more complete and add more atmosphere to the performance,” says Shcherbakov. “They are nice and cute. I think it’s a good opportunity for ballet students to perform with professional ballet dancers.”

“I love to work with local kids,” says Morari. “They are very excited during the whole process of getting ready for the show and of course, the show itself.”

Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132