The Nutcracker Ballet
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet is a fanciful story in dance featuring young Clara and her new Christmas Nutcracker, a gift from her Godfather Drosselmeyer.
The story opens at the home of the Stahlbaums where daughter Clara and son Fritz welcome their friends to the family Christmas party. The guests enjoy the entertainment and gifts brought by Drosselmeyer. As the party ends, Clara falls asleep under the tree.
Clara rises and is surprised by the magic of the growing Christmas tree and her Nutcracker, which has come to life. The Nutcracker is confronted by King Mouse and his band of mice. Nutcracker battles King Mouse with the help of his own soldiers. King Mouse is slain, but the Nutcracker lives and transforms into a Prince. Within her dream, the Nutcracker Prince and Clara travel through the Land of Snow and into the Land of Sweets. They are honored by the Sugar Plum fairy with a celebration of dancing sweets from around the world. At the end of the night Clara returns to her bed and the Nutcracker returns to his wooden form.
Ballet Forest’s Grove’s first production of the Nutcracker in 2007 consisted of one show with a cast of 53 dancers, was less than an hour long, and the costumes were handmade. The production has seen tremendous growth over the years. The production is now 90 minutes in length, close to selling out four shows (which equates to almost 3,000 attendees), hosts 260 dancers, features 65 soloists, and showcases high quality costumes and props.
Two 30’ long trucks are required to transfer all of the professional level costumes and props to the theater. Volunteers put in over 450 hours of time for the Nutcracker production doing everything from loading and unloading the trucks to helping out backstage. Ballet Forest Grove President and Artistic Director, Patty Petersen, feels incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful volunteers, board members and teachers. She also feels fortunate to have the support of the local community. Many local businesses and community members provide fiscal and logistical support for the production.
Petersen is impressed with the dedication of company members who practice an average of 6 hours per week. They currently have 39 dancers on pointe (dancing on the tips of one’s toes). Their special pointe shoes cost approximately $85 and last an average of 12-20 hours of dancing on pointe. Ballet Forest Grove is able to help dancers with the cost of pointe shoes. Dancing on pointe in the Nutcracker production is a significant accomplishment for the dancers.
Ballet Forest Grove Nutcracker interesting facts:
• It takes a total of 9 hours and a minimum of 30 volunteers to transport costumes and props, set up the stage, prep the dressing rooms and decorate the lobby.
• Each performance requires a minimum of 45 stage and backstage volunteers.
• BFG updates costumes every three years and creates new choreography to keep the shows fresh and exciting.
• Many of the props; the growing tree (which grows to 30 feet), present boxes, puppet theater, owl clock, snow cradle, sleigh, fireplace, cannon, swords, guns, gingerbread house, palanquin, and many small props were handmade by volunteers.
• The 36 x 30, 550 pound performance floor along with the base floor for quieting the pointe shoes takes 3 hours to install.
• Over 1000 bobby pins are used each year.
• 60 pounds of artificial snow are used each year.