Arts: Inland Pacific Ballet Presents The Nutcracker

By Erns Valdez

The first few days of December have passed and already we’re knee deep into the holiday spirit. Lights are up on the houses, vacant lots are now forests of wonderfully smelling trees and everywhere you go the sounds of Christmas music fills the air. While some of us are still eating turkey leftovers, IEShineOn.com has posted a list of 60 holiday events. For those of you who love the sights and sounds of the holidays, you’re going to want to get tickets to the Inland Pacific Ballet’s production of "The Nutcracker."

 

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the storyline of "The nutcracker," or at the very least, you're familiar with the iconic music. Instead of spoon-feeding you the wonderful plot with amazing characters and dazzling visuals, I’d first like to share with you my experience when visiting a recent dress rehearsal.

While I have attended a few musical productions and ballets, this was the first time I was able to experience the show from both sides of the curtain. What we as the audience experience is only the end result of countless hours of work, practice and hard work by the cast and crew.

 

The theater is quiet, the audience's attention is directed to the perfectly lit stage with a marvelously hand-painted set. Dancers slowly take to the stage and the story begins. Side stage, it’s dozens of performers rushing to their positions, stretching, practicing and eagerly waiting for their cues. There is a wonderful excitement that can be felt as you look at the eager faces of those waiting to take to the stage. Quickly dancers return from the stage and head backstage and those who have been waiting for their cues dash out. There is a choreographed shuffle and the next set of dancers steps up and the cycle continues. In a brief moment you simultaneously watch winded performers return to catch their breaths and excited dancers take deep breaths before they take to the stage.

To get backstage you go through two sets of doors. What you walk into can only be described as organized chaos. With a cast of more than 80 dancers who do several costume changes throughout the show, you can imagine the full dressing rooms and traffic in the narrow hallways. I was happy to be able to spend a few minutes in one of the green rooms where some of the soloists were taking much-needed breaks. Much like a sports locker room at halftime, these young professionals are winded, but psyched to return to the stage. All costumes are handmade in-house and there is a well experienced staff on hand to assist with those last minute alterations and quick fixes.

 

One of the wonderful things about this production is that its cast is made up of professionals, students and youth from every corner of the Inland Empire. From Mt. Baldy to Yucaipa, these young professionals show up to all practices and rehearsals. There is a selection process and all dancers must audition.

There is a strong outreach to the community as IPB invites local schools to attend its special educational adaptation of the ballet, which is called the “Young Person’s Guide to the Ballet.” This event is not only educational, but also inspirational for those who may have an interest in the arts. Students have the chance to watch an abridged version of the ballet and are able to have a Q&A session with the performers.
 

One important thing to note about this production is the small artistic editing in choreography and characters made by principal dancer and Associate Artistic Director Jonathan Sharp and Choreographer Zaylin Cano. Those familiar with "The Nutcracker" will be pleasantly surprised with some of the added elements that provide a fresh take on the the holiday classic.

 

Below are pictures from the ballet, a short one-minute video and performance location and ticketing information.


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

For tickets, visit the Inland Pacific Ballet's website.

Ticket prices: From $39 with senior/child/group discounts available.

Show Times/Theaters

Fox Performing Arts Center

3801 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA 92501

Saturday, Dec. 10, 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m.

 

Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College

450 North College Way, Claremont, CA 91711

Saturday, Dec. 17,  2 and 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m.