Moscow Ballet to Bring the ‘Great Russian Nutcracker’ to The Wiltern

Angelenos’ may not be able to build snowmen, engage in snowball fights, or go sledding come the holiday season, but we will have the opportunity to experience a bit of a Russian Christmas. The Moscow Ballet performs the “Great Russian Nutcracker” Dec. 21 at  The Wiltern

The Moscow Ballet is a troupe of classically trained Russian dancers who have been regularly touring North America since the end of the Cold War.  Although they have performed a number of ballets, including crowd-pleasers such as “Cinderella” and “Swan Lake,” the Moscow Ballet is most celebrated for their annual Nutcracker tour, which enthralls audience in Puerto Rico, Calgary, New York, Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

A little history on “The Nutcracker” is necessary.  This classic ballet about children’s toys coming to life on Christmas Eve. It was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, debuted in St. Petersburg in 1892.  Initially unsuccessful, “The Nutcracker” has been popular, particularly in the United States.  Fun fact: about 40 percent of annual North American ballet ticket sales are for “The Nutcracker.”

Although “The Nutcracker” may be more than a century old, don’t expect the same old show this time around.  Moscow Ballet stopped by Calgary November 14, and the Calgary Herald reported that the original story has been altered.

“In its place, we have essentially, a series of set balletic pieces loosely cast to a low-key love story of minimal narrative power. Clara, now called Masha (Alisa Voronova), seems to leave childhood behind altogether by Act II when she encounters the Nutcracker Prince (Anatolie Ustimov), turning this more into an adult romance and less so either a coming-of-age story or sweet children’s Christmas tale of resonant emotional depth.”

Despite its grown-up makeover, don’t think that “Great Russian Nutcracker” won’t have something in it for the kids.  Through their Dance With Us program, over 50,000 young dancers have the opportunity to audition, rehearse, and perform with the professional dancers every year.  Calgary Herald called the local children who performed as snowflakes, mice and other colorful characters the highlight of the show.

Moscow Ballet also gives back by doing their part to end human trafficking.  For every ticket sold, five dollars will go to Embassy of Hope, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of human trafficking and provides support to those who have been affected.

Moscow Ballet will perform “Great Russian Nutcracker” Dec. 21 at The Wiltern.  Tickets can be purchased here.