A long-standing local tradition continues this holiday season as the Greater Niagara Ballet Co. presents "The Nutcracker." The show is on stage at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Niagara Falls High School Performing Arts Center, 4455 Porter Road.
"The Nutcracker" story comes to life in the Silberhaus family living room, where family and friends have gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve. Clara, captivated by the merriments, awaits the arrival of mysterious Uncle Drosselmier. Upon his arrival, he brings magical presents for the partygoers. In particular, Drosselmier presents his niece with a special gift: a nutcracker doll.
Later that night, Clara, finding it hard to sleep, tiptoes into the living room to sneak a peak at her new doll. As the clock strikes midnight, she awakens to see the Christmas tree magically growing - and her nutcracker coming to life to battle the evil Mouse King!
Soon after, the nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince who travels with Clara through the "Land of Snow" to the "Kingdom of Sweets."
"The Nutcracker" is based on a tale by Ernest Hoffman and choreographed by Ivanov to the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892.
The GNBC's version, a family favorite in Western New York, showcases local dancers, character performers and parents in a ballet set to the direction of artistic director Beverley Feder, FISTD.
This year's special guest performer is Manuel Barriga. Born in Holland and raised in Madrid, Barriga studied ballet with Victor Ullate and Carmina Ocana. He started his professional career with Ballet San Jose, then moved to New York City to dance with New York Theatre Ballet. He occasionally performs with Barcelona Ballet (formerly Corella Ballet) in Natalya Makarova's La Bayadere and Paris Opera Ballet in Maurice Bejart's Bolero for the Lincoln Center Festival. In August 2012, Barriga joined Carolina Ballet for its 15th season.
Other guest artists include Irek Muchalski, Mary Schnepf and Molly Vine.
Tickets to "The Nutcracker" are $20 for adults and $15 for students and senior citizens. A family pack (two adults, two students) costs $55. Pre-sale tickets are available at all Niagara Falls Tim Hortons locations and on the GNBC website, www.greaterniagaraballetcompany.org.