Christmas came early for ballet fans in Moose Jaw on Saturday night as the Moscow Ballet brought the beloved story of The Nutcracker to life at Mosaic Place.
The touring company presented its Great Russian Nutcracker production at the arena, attracting a crowd estimated at more than 1,500 strong.
Around 40 dancers took part in the performance, which utilized bright, colourful costumes, lavish, hand-painted backdrops, and Peter Tchaikovsky’s familiar score.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Moscow Ballet’s North American tours. Promoter Dan Talmi said the company will present 100 performances this year in the U.S. and Canada, adding that the productions have continually changed over two decades.
“It’s just gotten bigger ... more moving parts, more drops,” he said.
Saturday’s show also included a wealth of local talent: close to 100 dancers, both boys and girls, from Moose Jaw, Regina and the surrounding area joined the Russian performers on stage. Auditions were held in August, and finalists were invited to fill supporting roles like party guests, mice, angels and snowflakes.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” explained Talmi, saying that the shows give young dancers the chance to perform alongside international talent. “We try to get as many kids involved as possible.”
Shauna Bzdel, ballet instructor for Moose Jaw’s Dance Images by BJ, said a total of 17 dancers from the city were part of the group. They have been rehearsing every weekend for close to three months.
“I think they’re all very excited,” she told the Times-Herald. “It’s been a lot of preparation.”
Bzdel said the group was looking forward to performing in front of a hometown crowd. The dancers ranged in age from nine to 19. Costume fittings and rehearsals were held at Mosaic Place on Saturday afternoon, just a few hours before the show.
For more details, check out Monday's edition of the Times-Herald.