nut Story H1
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School: 651-290-0513

N U T C R A C K E R   S T O R Y ...... as retold by Laurie Parker

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" Choreographer Andrew Rist's classic interpretation focuses on telling the story through the dramatic flow of the dancing. Notable for its stunning design and energetic performances, this 'Nutcracker' make the children a vital part of the story .         - PIONEER PRESS -

   H I S T O R Y          S T O R Y          2001 Photos         2009 Photos        2010 Photos         2011 Photos       2012 Photos         2013 Photos           AndrewRist        Cheryl Rist
Laurie danced the role of Clara in Ballet Minnesota's 1991 production of the 'Classic' Nutcracker

   The Story begins on Christmas, the most magical time of the year. Everyone is getting ready for parties, making last minute shopping trips, visiting friends and relatives. Herr Drosselmeyer is making toys in his toy shop for his grandchildren, testing to be sure they will be perfect. People pass on the street, perhaps on their way to a party? Everyone is filled with expectant good cheer. The Silberhaus family is having a Christmas party. Everyone is having a lovely time, except the rude Ratheimers. But everyone ignores their snobbishness. The couples dance and the children play. There are presents for everyone. Godfather Drosselmeyer is late, but brings a little mechanical German Doll for Clara. Then he shows the toy soldiers he brought for Fritz.
Then all the little girls receive special dolls as gifts, but where is the doll for Clara? Not to worry, Godfather Drosselmeyer has a beautiful Nutcracker for her. She falls instantly in love with her handsome little friend. But Fritz is jealous. He wanted a Nutcracker too. So he chases Clara until he can get it away from her, and then he breaks it. Clara is devastated. Drosselmeyer takes the Nutcracker, and ties a handkerchief around to fix the break. It works! Clara and her friends dance their babies to sleep with a lullaby. Everyone is sleepy, but happy. It's time to go home.
Clara can't sleep. So she comes back to the parlor, and falls asleep in the chair. There are noises. Skitter, scatter Oh, is that a mouse? Clara wakes to be surrounded by big rats. She jumps down, and suddenly, she hears the clock chiming She turns, and sees the Nutcracker on top of the clock. She runs to get it, and there is Godfather Drosselmeyer, looking like a frighteningly huge owl! He takes her whirling round and round, until she hardly knows what is happening. She nearly bumps into a little angel, coming through with a candle. She follows the angel, and doesn't notice how large the Christmas tree is growing. Or is Clara shrinking?
The Nutcracker appears, and he is bigger than Clara! Oh, and a terrible Rat King with his army of horrid rats. But Fritz's toy soldiers are there, too, and they begin to fight a war against the rats. They are losing rather badly, until finally the Rat King has the Nutcracker pinned to the floor. Clara runs up and strikes the Rat King with her shoe, giving the Nutcracker just enough time to finish him off. The little angels come to take the dying Rat King off to heaven, as the rats mourn the death of their leader.
The Snow Queen comes to wash all of the bloodshed away and crowns Clara the Princess of the Land of Snow. It begins to snow, as Clara and the Nutcracker go off to the kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Clara is enchanted with the beautiful kingdom. She meets the Sugar Plum Fairy, and with the help of the Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer, tells the Story of how she received the Nutcracker, and helped fight the war against the Rat King. The Sugar Plum Fairy gives her the throne of the Land of Sweets. Clara sits down to watch the people of the land present dances for her.
First, there is a firey Spanish dance, with flowing skirts and fans. Then a gorgeous Arabian dance, with a funny camel.
And a happy Chinese dance, a Russian dance, where they jump and spin, almost flying.  The delicate little reed flutes, twirling and softly piping. And Madame Ginger, with her huge skirt, trying to get her naughty children to go to bed.
Then a lovely waltz is danced by all of the graceful flowers.
Last, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier dance a Grand Pas De Deux especially for Clara.
But alas, she can't stay forever.  Everything becomes a blur as the Nutcracker takes her back to her parlor. She wakes up in the same chair, and the Nutcracker is gone.


Pioneer Press
Posted on Thursday,
December 14, 2006

'Classic Nutcracker' is rich, vibrant, entertaining

By Linda Shapiro

      "Ballet Minnesota's Classic Nutcracker" wraps the stage of the O'Shaughnessy like a homemade afghan with intricate patterns and rich, vibrant colors. It offers warmth and family feeling. And if it occasionally drops a few stitches, the overall effect is spirited and highly entertaining.

     The first act Christmas party in the 19th century Silberhaus drawing room bristles with celebration as elegant adults, adorable children, bustling maids and dancing boys (sometimes in ragged unison) swirl about in lively, looping patterns. Godfather Drosselmeyer, played with sinister jollity by Robert Cleary, distributes toys to the delighted children, including a spiffy Nutcracker for Clara Silberhaus.

    Freezing the action at various times during the festivities and adding pulsating strobe lights is a terrific way to foreshadow the menacing scene that takes place after midnight, when Clara sneaks downstairs to play with her beloved Nutcracker.  She is soon surrounded by frolicsome little mice and red-eyed rats, who are quickly dispatched by the Nutcracker and his crack regiment in a battle scene marked by carefully orchestrated mayhem.  The victorious Nutcracker, transformed into a handsome young officer, whisks Clara off to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy with help from swirling snowflakes and a whole cadre of vivacous little angels.


Classic Nutcracker Collage

     Andrew Rist's choreography for the snowflakes is fast and brittle - more a blizzard than a soft, lyrical snowfall - and the ensemble often seems to be racing to keep up with the deluge of steps. More successful is his ravishing waltz of the Flowers in Act II, where lithe blossoms melt in and out of kaleidoscopic patterns with unaffected ease, led by Erin Warn as a prize-winning rose.

     Once in the castle of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara and the Nutcracker (danced with vitality and elan by Kathleen Schaefer and Allen Gregory) are entertained by dances from many lands.  These include a saucy "Carmen"-flavored Spanish; a robust Russian; and a piquant Chinese variation with spinning parasols, a dragon, and a smoke-belching demon.

     Most satisfying of all is the pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, performed with regal eplomb by former Bolshoe soloist Oksana Konobeyeva and Alexey Agudin of American Ballet Theater.  Aside from dazzling dancing, the two exhibit an ardent warmth and generosity of spirit that could serve as a model for the budding Clara and her faithful Nutcracker.

     Cheryl Rist's imaginative costumes and Mary Novodvorsky's richly inventive sets enhanced this animated production.