The Nutcracker: A Cowichan Theatre tradition returns

The annual Royal City Youth Ballet production of The Nutcracker has been getting Cowichan into the holiday spirit for years. - Andrew Leong/file
The annual Royal City Youth Ballet production of The Nutcracker has been getting Cowichan into the holiday spirit for years.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

After 120 years, The Nutcracker still keeps audiences on pointed toes.

The Cowichan Theatre presents The Royal City Youth Ballet performance of this timeless Christmas classic this weekend.

New tutus in this year’s performance add new energy to The Nutcracker, so even if you’ve seen it before, you haven’t seen it like this.

“With new dancers comes new energy, new interpretations, new expressions and although you might have seen The Nutcracker before, it’s portrayed differently by the new dancers,” Nikki Nilsson, acting programmer at the Cowichan Theatre said. “I like the new dancers and seeing how they interpret their roles.”

There is local talent in this year’s production. Isabella Lyons plays the principle role of Clara and her aunt and uncle live in the Cowichan Valley.

Lyons, who has been dancing since she was two, has spent months practicing for the show. She is excited to perform in front of her family at the Cowichan Theatre.

The Royal City Youth Ballet gives young dancers the chance to perform with veteran professionals.

“This is a young group and the Royal City Youth Ballet, they bridge the gap between dancers who come from the top of their classes going into professional dance. It’s a chance to dance for a professional company but they aren’t the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, yet,” Nilsson said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them so the young dancers can work with professionals.”

Nilsson says The Nutcracker is inspirational for aspiring dancers in the community. Little girls and boys might split jump and plie out of the theatre.

“A dancer who is in dance school can see what she or he can aspire to because the level of dancing in The Nutcracker. There are some tricky duets and difficult pieces that they so seeing and that is inspiration for a student.” Nilsson said.

The Nutcracker, originally performed in Russia, is loved all over the world and has been presented by many different ballet companies. It follows the story of Clara. She is given a nutcracker, who comes to life and takes her on an adventure in the Land of the Sweets.

“I think people really get into the Christmas spirit when they see The Nutcracker. There’s a lot of action with The Land of the Sweets, the exotic people, Clara and her nutcracker solider see on their nutcracker voyage,” Nilsson said. “It’s just so full of activity and it’s charming. It kind of takes you back to a gentler time.”

Some families make it a tradition to go every year. Nilsson says that people who haven’t seen it will recognize the music and still enjoy it, even if they aren’t familiar with the story.

“It appeals to all ages. The music is very recognizable they will recall the music and it will make sense to them visually when they see the performance. There is better connection of the choreography when there is an expression of music that goes along with it.” Nilsson said.


Your ticket

What: The Nutcracker

Where: Cowichan Theatre

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 21 and, 1 p.m. Dec. 22.

Tickets: $23 or $70 for a family of two adults and two children. Call 250-748-7529.

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