Submitted by Ballet Northwest
Ballet Northwest is proud to debut a brand-new Act I set for their annual presentation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Over 200 dancers will grace the stage this year as audiences experience the timeless holiday tale in a whole new way.
Set designer Jill Carter and Co-Artistic Directors Ken and Josie Johnson have been working since last spring on the new set, which shows the interior of the Silberhaus home on the eve of their Christmas party. Technological advances in stage design and lighting will make the set to appear to grow when Clara joins the Nutcracker and toy soldiers in battle against the Mouse King.
200 people make up the cast, which features local dancers as young as eight years old as well as Ballet Northwest company dancers. Ballet Northwest’s dance company is comprised of over 70 dancers age 12 and older, primarily from the South Puget Sound area. Guest dancer Iyun Harrison joins the production as the Nutcracker Prince. Mr. Harrison danced professionally with Dance Theater of Harlem and Ailey II, both in New York City. Currently he is on faculty at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and locally at Johansen Olympia Dance Center. He is also the Artistic Director of Ashani Dances in Seattle.
The production is choreographed by Ballet Northwest’s Artistic Directors Ken and Josie Johnson and is sponsored by The Olympian, Dr. Andrew Kapust, DDS, Kell-Chuck Glass, and Mixx 96.1 FM.
Co-Artistic Director Josie Johnson states, “We’re thrilled to be debuting this amazing new set, which will make the production even more magical.”
Her husband and Co-Artistic Director Ken Johnson adds, “The talent this year is greater than ever, so much so that we’ve triple cast all of the soloist parts so the dancers rotate through different parts, like most professional companies.”
Plot Synopsis and History
During a family Christmas party, the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer gives Clara a wooden Nutcracker in the shape of a soldier dressed in parade uniform. When her brother Fritz grabs for the toy it breaks. Crushed, Clara nurses the Nutcracker with Herr Drosselmeyer’s help. After the party, Clara visits her Nutcracker in the great room and falls asleep on the sofa. At midnight, she awakens to find herself shrunk to the size of the toys under the tree. An army of mice corner her and the Nutcracker springs to life. He, Clara, and a host of Toy Soldiers defeat the Mouse King and his army. The Nutcracker is revealed to be a prince, finally freed from the Mouse King’s magic. To thank her for breaking the spell that bound him inside the nutcracker, the Prince takes Clara to the Land of Sweets, where The Sugar Plum Fairy and her people dance to celebrate the Prince’s return.
The Nutcracker is a fairy-tale ballet based on the L’Histoire d’un Casse Noisette (The Story of the Hazelnut-Cracker) by Dumas Père, which is itself based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote the score for the ballet, which premiered on December 17, 1892 at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg with the Imperial Russian Ballet. Though The Nutcracker was performed in Russia for many years, it was not performed in its entirety in the US until December 29, 1944 by the San Francisco Opera Ballet, where it became an annual holiday tradition. For 10 years, they were the only company in the country to perform it until the New York City Ballet staged a production with George Balanchine’s choreography on February 2, 1954. It wasn’t long before the ballet secured its place in American tradition. Balanchine’s choreography has become the most emulated in the world.
Josie Johnson, Co-Artistic Director – Josie and her husband Ken are the Directors of Johansen Olympia Dance Center. She trained at Orange County Ballet Theatre, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where she received a B.F.A. in Dance Pedagogy. Josie danced professionally with Dance Connecticut/Hartford Ballet, Connecticut Opera, Roxey Ballet, and ARC Dance Productions. Guest credits include Eliot Feld’s Mr. XYZ with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Kirk Peterson’s The Nutcracker with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. Josie has taught and choreographed extensively throughout New Jersey and Connecticut, and locally at Washington Contemporary Ballet, Evergreen City Ballet, ARC Dance Productions, and Saint Martin’s University. She is an American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum certified teacher.
Ken Johnson, Co-Artistic Director – Ken and his wife Josie are the Directors of Johansen Olympia Dance Center. He trained at Johansen School of Ballet, Evergreen City Ballet, and the School of Hartford Ballet. He attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet on scholarship. Ken danced professionally with Hartford Ballet, Dance Connecticut, and Connecticut Opera, as well as at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Following his retirement from performing, Ken received a bachelor’s from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. In addition to teaching dance, Ken has worked at American Repertory Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Connecticut, ACT Theatre, and Tacoma Art Museum. He is an American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum certified teacher.
Since 1970, Ballet Northwest has been a community-based group dedicated to promoting, teaching, and preserving the art of dance in Southwestern Washington. The company offers educational opportunities for local dancers as well as outreach throughout the community.
Details: Performances scheduled at 7:30pm on Dec. 13, 14, 22, and 21; 2pm on Dec 14, 15, 21 and 22, 2013. All performances held at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St SE Olympia, WA 98501. Purchase tickets by calling 360-753-8586 or order online at www.olytix.org. Tickets are $14 to$30, plus $3.00 service fee. Student, senior, and youth discounts available.