Moscow Ballet makes magic by inviting children to perform with professionals

Grade: A-

On Wednesday night, when the Moscow Ballet stopped at Emens Auditorium to perform its "Great Russian Nutcracker," it entered the hearts and minds of all who attended, both young and old.

Moscow Ballet knows exactly where to find the magic that belongs with the Christmas season -- through the energy of a child.

On Wednesday night, when the Moscow Ballet stopped at Emens Auditorium to perform its "Great Russian Nutcracker," it entered the hearts and minds of all who attended, both young and old.

With precise dancing to an ingenious musical score composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the dancers managed to dazzle the audience. However, the group would never had made magic if it had not invited local children auditioned from the Muncie Ballet Studio to decorate its stage.

The children danced as everything from chocolates to snowflakes. Even though every step may not have been precise, the talented young dancers presented themselves with maturity and seriousness that they blended in with the professionals on stage.

The amount of concentration the children were applying was present, however, and their smiles and facial expressions were genuine.

The story of the Nutcracker is a children's tale of a girl named Masha, or Clara as Americans know it, who receives a nutcracker for a gift on Christmas Eve. The gift is broken, and that night, Masha has an enchanted dream with dancing mice and human snowflakes.

Several children attended the show to see the story come to life. Ethan Jacobs, a 7-year-old Nutcracker collector, sat captivated. He began the performance sitting in his seat, and by the Snowflake dance, he was in the aisle to have a clear view. Another child, also in the aisle, began to spin himself around during "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."

At the intermission, a group of young singers from Royerton Elementary stood on the forestage and sang several a capella songs. They finished with "God Bless America," and on its final chorus their director, Jan Morris, invited the audience to join in. Audience members stopped mid-conversation and began harmonizing with the children.

The Moscow Ballet knew how to add spectacle to its performance also. The set of each scene was complimented with a large painted backdrop. Throughout the evening there were at least nine different large scenes from Christmas trees to the outside of a house.

The costumes the dancers wore added another dimension to the performance. In "The Waltz of the Flowers" the ballerinas wore calf-length tutus with a layer of material over their skirts that shimmered and unfolded like flowers with each movement.

After her students had performed, Morris said she had received a letter from the Moscow Ballet inviting her to bring children to sing. This invitation was just one more ingredient that made magic for the Moscow Ballet and an evening that many children -- whether singers, dancers or audience members -- will not soon forget.


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