THE NUTCRACKER – a gingerbread man that came to life

Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

This is the story of a dancing bear. It’s also the story of dancing mice, and a gingerbread man that came to life. No, this story isn’t nuts – it’s the story of ‘The Nutcracker’.

Playing at the Boston Opera House on its opening night, November 25, 2016, Mikko Nissinen’s ballet, The Nutcracker, transported viewers to Christmas eve in the Silberhaus family’s living room.

lizavollphotography-0150
Delia Wada-Gill as Clara (center) and students of Boston Ballet School in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Young Clara Silberhaus falls asleep after a Christmas party, with the Nutcracker doll that was a gift from her beloved uncle, snuggled in her arms.  What ensues thereafter is a magical dream, that takes Clara, played by Delia Wada-Gill, on a journey through the enchanted forest to the Nutcracker Prince’s kingdom.

“It’s a truly beautiful production, not just for the dance, but the stage set up too. It’s my favorite ballet piece, or rather, my favorite dance piece,” said Nikki Haley, an audience member. “Christmas by itself is special enough, but The Nutcracker just adds to it, you know?” she said.

“I love it because the evil mice die, and all the good guys get to be happy,” said her seven-year-old son, Kevin Haley. “The fat bear is the fun-est part,” he said.

lizavollphotography-1026
Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

For Jacky Mirdek and four generations of her family- including herself, her mother, daughter and granddaughter, the show has provided an opportunity to bond over the anticipation of Christmas.

“We came out last year too, and my granddaughter loved it. She’s five, but she knows the order of the routines by heart,” she said. “This year my son-in-law got involved with the stage too, he helped with the falling snow. It was great. Our family loves the entire thing.”

lizavollphotography-1156
Seo Hye Han, Paul Craig, and Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

The sets that form the backdrops for the production were hand painted and domestically made- mostly in Boston Ballet’s 40,000 square foot warehouse in Newburyport. The large Christmas tree, below which begins the tale, grows to an enormous 42 feet and 6 inches tall, reflecting well the breadth of movement of approximately 150 dancers that grace the stage.

A total of 182 costumes appear on stage during a single performance, including the Sugar Plum and Snow Queen tutus, hand-tipped with metallic paint by set and costume designer Robert Perdziola.  “The tutus and sparkle really make my day,” said Mirdek.

lizavollphotography-1205
Boston Ballet in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Nissinen’s re-envisioned family-friendly tradition, which was the first time Boston Ballet built a new production entirely from the ground up. The production will be on at the Boston Opera House till December 31, 2016.


For more information on how you can plan for the show: Read – The Nutcracker: A Holiday Ballet Romance


About the Author: Originally from New Delhi, India, Vaishnavee Sharma left home to pursue her Master’s in Journalism at Boston University. Her interests include Feminism, Wildlife Conservation and Social Justice. When bored, she enjoys reading, watching documentaries and plotting ways to destroy Patriarchy.