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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Russian ballet troupe performs ‘classical’ version of ‘The Nutcracker’ in the Bronx

By James Palmer
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The Women of Coffe rise like steam in their dance passage of the Moscow Classical Ballet’s performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ on Sunday, Dec. 15 at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The Moscow Classical Ballet brought the ‘Nutcracker’ and all its splendor to the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Chocolate Scene in the Moscow Classical Ballet’s of the ‘Nutcracker.’
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The Nutcracker leaps in the air.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The Mouse Queen with her army of mice in the ‘Nutcracker.’

On Sunday evening in the Northwest Bronx, a pack of mice attacked a young girl named Masha Stahlbaum as she slumbered under her family’s lighted Christmas tree.

Fortunately for Mashsa, a band of mercenary toy soldiers led by a nutcracker beat back the insurgent rodents.

In the ruckus, the nutcracker slew the pests’ leader, who was known to his followers as the Mouse Prince.

The Mouse Queen soon sought vengeance for her son’s death, but Masha repelled the vindictive rodent by tossing a shoe at her.

Not surprisingly, this surreal sequence of events will not appear in any police blotter — this was a mesmerizing performance of The Nutcracker by the Moscow Classical Ballet at the Lehman Center Concert Hall.

Igor Moiseyev formed the Moscow Classical Ballet in 1966. The company has performed in over 30 countries, including annual tours of The Nutcracker in America for the last 19 years.

Famed ballet dancers like Mikhail Baryshnikov and Irina Kolpakova have appeared in the troupe’s productions.

Theatergoers familiar with the New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theater interpretations of The Nutcracker were treated to a more traditional version of the holiday dance piece during the Moscow Classical Ballet’s performance in the Bronx. The Russian company’s rendition of the ballet is based on Vasily Vainonen’s 1934 version.

Absent is the Sugar Plum Fairy. In place of the Mouse King is a character called Myshilda, who is the Mouse Queen. And rather than appearing sparingly as a mysterious character, the magician Drosselmeyer is featured prominently in a dance role.

Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky composed the music for The Nutcracker to accompany Alexandre Dumas Père’s adaptation of German writer E.T.A. Hoffman’s story titled “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” The two act ballet premiered at the Mariniisky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892.

The San Francisco Ballet first staged The Nutcracker in the United States in 1944. George Balanchine led the New York City Ballet in their inaugural performance of the piece in 1954.

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