Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, you may be able to recognize the signature “Nutcracker Suite” and “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” floating through Emilie K. Asplundh Hall at West Chester University. The holiday season means Brandywine Ballet is performing “The Nutcracker.” Under the artistic direction of Donna L. Muzio, experience a ballet that will make you feel like a kid again.
In a 19th-century German town, meet Clara, a little girl whose parents are hosting an extravagant Christmas party. Her Uncle Drosselmeyer, a revered toy-maker and magician, creates the perfect doll for her: a nutcracker! Jealous, her brother, Fritz, quickly breaks the toy. Later that night, Clara has a nightmare — the Mouse King and his mice minions have invaded her home! Luckily, her nutcracker comes to her rescue. From the symphony of violins and flutes to the vibrant costumes and colors of the stage, prepare to be enraptured for two hours by the power of dreams and childhood fantasies.
It’s difficult to pinpoint who the stars of this ballet would be because this ballet really starred everyone. Drosselmeyer, played by Tim Early, and Clara, played by Katie Mullins, could be considered the “main characters,” but the ballet could not have been possible without the entire cast of dedicated men, women, and children making up the talented ensemble, all dancing to familiar tunes and wowing the audience with their ballet acrobatics.
Seriously. I don’t know how ballerinas can be that flexible!
After the performance, I spoke with Heather Conboy, Brandywine Ballet’s marketing and developing manager, who went into detail about the lengths these dancers rehearsed.
“We were preparing for this by the end of October,” Heather said. “Some dancers were already performing in ‘Dracula’ during that time, so there was a lot of overlap. Every dancer rehearsed all day Saturdays and Sundays, and occasional Friday evenings. And on top of that, some of the dancers would be working six days a week with us in classes!”
“This really is a classic for everyone, no matter which holiday you celebrate,” Heather continued. “The story and the score are powerful!”
The Brandywine Ballet was founded 38 years ago in 1979, and has been performing “The Nutcracker” for 32 years.