Ballet Nebraska Brings Something New to Nutcracker

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December 4th, 2014

Omaha, NE —  The ballet company is breathing new life into a holiday classic.

[audio:http://www.kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Nutcracker-Mixdown-Web.mp3]
Vivi DiMarco in "The Land of Snow" from Ballet Nebraska's production of ''The Nutcracker''.

Vivi DiMarco in “The Land of Snow” from Ballet Nebraska’s production of ”The Nutcracker”.

As iconic for its sound as it is for its story, The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky has stood the test of time for over 100 years. Performed by countless ballet companies across the country, the show has become an institution for the holiday season and a right of passage for any professional dancer. With so much history behind the show, one might look at Ballet Nebraska’s production as just another page in The Nutcracker’s lengthy production history. But for Artistic Director Erika Overturff, the show provided a chance to do something fresh inside of an old standard.

“It was really fun to get to choreograph my own version of The Nutcracker,” Overturff said. “Any professional dancer has probably been in different versions of The Nutcracker throughout their life. When I took on the project, I was able to chose all of my favorite ideas. The music is fantastic. For a choreographer it really gives you a lot to work with, play with, and be inspired by.”

For this production, Overturff not only directs the 19 professional dancers, but also more than 125 community performers from small children to adults, all while performing the show herself. So how is she able to balance all of her different responsibilities?

“Very carefully,” she laughed. “Christmas magic? I don’t know.”

Overturff’s take on the production is a new look at the French variation of The Nutcracker. For instance, instead of a Rat King, the company features a Rat Queen to take advantage new dynamics brought by the dancers’ opposing genders. That’s just one of many wrinkles Overturff has placed in the French variation.

“I was thinking about what inspired me in that theme,” she said. “I thought of a French baker, a pastry chef. That’s what we have as our soloist who then has some assistance, little bakers. And then, there’s a giant cake with a ballerina. It’s been a lot of fun. I think it will be a big surprise for the audience when that comes out.”

According to Overturff, the inspiration for the new look Nutcracker came from the century-old story itself.

“The fun thing about it is that it’s a dream. Your imagination can take you anywhere. I think that’s one of the things that can keep Nutcracker fresh. Also, I think that it’s so enduring because of the music. It’s so beautiful. It’s a holiday tradition, something that people look forward to year to year. Maybe they saw it when they were a child and now they want to take their children to see it. It’s a heartwarming story with entertaining dancing and beautiful music.”

Ballet Nebraska’s production of The Nutcracker will run Saturday, December 6th and Sunday, December 7th at 7pm at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Omaha. There will so be an additional 2pm performance on Saturday. For more information on the show, visit www.balletnebraska.org.

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