Inland Pacific Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

Nothing celebrates the holiday season quite like The Nutcracker. As someone who adores musicals and concerts, the ballet has never been my “thing.” I decided to change that when The Inland Pacific Ballet invited me out to experience their annual spectacular of the beloved Christmas tale. My first time attending a ballet, I brought along my husband who is also new to the ballet. Final verdict? Read on to find out!

The Inland Pacific Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

The timeless story of The Nutcracker tells the tale of Clara (played by Lucy Cox) and the adventures she dreams on Christmas Eve with her present, a nutcracker soldier (Lawrence Chen). Clara’s beloved soldier comes to life and they set off together on a magical journey that finds them meeting such iconic characters including The Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen and some very pesty mice led by a mouse King.

Touring to 3 different venues this past month throughout Los Angeles’ Inland Empire, we headed out to the final performance held at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium in Claremont, California. A full house, the lobby was dazzling with plenty of photo opportunities including a gorgeous tree adorned with ornaments and life sized nutcrackers. It was adorable to see families and young children anticipating their afternoon at the ballet.

With a sharp showtime at 2pm, our performance was introduced by Inland Pacific Ballet’s Artistic Director and Founder, Victoria Koenig. Thanking us for attending, Koenig also let us know that out of all the productions of The Nutcracker that we were attending the best one! The show begins with a gorgeous backdrop of holiday homes awaiting party guests to arrive. As the ensemble makes their way across the stage, the background scene soon becomes translucent and all of the guests are now inside the soiree. This clever set design (dreamed up by Scenic Designers Daniel C. Nyiri and Nancy Seruto, respectively) was a glimpse of the magic to come on stage.

The Dancers and Creative Team

Since this was my inaugural ballet, I was skeptical how I’d enjoy a story told entirely through dance and visuals. Act 1 finds us at the party on Christmas Eve with exquisite dancing from The Snow Queen and Clara and the Prince. At times,I found the elaborate ensembles proved it difficult to focus my attention as there was such an enormous amount of talent before me.  As we headed into Act 2, the performances became much more centered and clear.

A great example from Act 2 is the opening that takes us to The Land of Sweets. Clara and The Prince are welcomed with a gorgeous dance led by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Jessica Gadzinski). This set the mood for what would be a beautiful spectacle throughout the 2nd act.

Cox and Chen absolutely shined as our heroines. Directed by several choreographers from the Inland Pacific company (Laurence Blake, Koenig, Stephanie Orza, Zaylin Cano, Kin Lam, Carrie Rothwell, Kevin Frank Myers, Jill Voznick and Jonathan Sharp), each number creates a dynamic layer to progress the 2 hour story. A highlight was certainly the youth ensemble. An adorable group of aspiring dancers played many roles including candy canes, ginger breads and bon bons.

Costume designer, Jeanne Nolden has created dynamic attire for each dancer. As dancers twirl across the stage, they sparkled and dazzled in bright and colorful costumes that lit up the stage to perfection accompanied by lighting designs from Eric Larson.

The Season Continues in 2019 with Inland Pacific Ballet

While The Nutcracker has wrapped up for the year, stay tuned as this spring will find them producing The Little Mermaid. Thanks to Inland Pacific Ballet, I’ve now had my first taste of the ballet. Verdict? We cannot wait for more ballets in our new year!

(*Disclosure: I was a guest of The Inland Pacific Ballet on behalf of this review. All opinions are my own.)

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