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Classic Holiday Ballet, The Nutcracker, returns to OU

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NORMAN, OKLA. – The magical holiday classic, The Nutcracker, returns this December at OU University Theatre.

The renowned production will open at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 with additional performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Dec. 2, 7, 8 and 9 and 3 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10 in the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre. The theatre is located at 563 Elm Ave., in the Rupel J. Jones Fine Arts Center on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus.

The Nutcracker is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” by E.T.A. Hoffman and is set to the magical score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The story is centered around the Silberhaus family’s Christmas Eve celebration and their young daughter Clara, who dreams of a Nutcracker prince, their battle against the villainous Mouse King and a journey to the Kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Oklahoma Festival Ballet, the resident ballet company of the OU School of Dance, will enchant audiences with this fairy tale ballet, featuring a magical dream of swirling snowflakes, waltzing flowers, a handsome prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Children from the Oklahoma City metro area will participate as soldiers, mice, harlequins, pages, snow crystals, chestnut vendors and party guests.

The OU Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Shames, D.M.A., will perform during the Dec. 1 and 2 performances and again Dec. 3.

Mary Margaret Holt, dean of the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, is the choreographer of the OU production. Holt is an award-winning educator whose leadership has gained recognition for OU School of Dance as one of the top three dance programs in the country. The recipient of many awards, including the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award, Holt has choreographed over 40 ballets, as well as performed with the San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet and Houston Ballet. Her choreography is in the repertoire of over a dozen companies in the United States, and it has also been seen in Great Britain, Europe, China and South America.

Boyko Dossev, artistic director of the Oklahoma Festival Ballet and OU assistant professor of ballet, is director of the company. Dossev danced with the Boston, Hamburg and The Washington Ballet, among others, and performed in works by such renowned choreographers such as John Cranko, John Neumeier, Jiri Kylian, August Bournonville, George Balanchine and Oleg Vinogradov.

Before joining the OU faculty, he taught at Boston Ballet School, the University of Maryland, Wellesley College, The Dance Complex – Cambridge, American Repertory Theater Harvard University, Festival Ballet Providence, Ballet Arkansas, and JMS in Toulouse, France.

The Nutcracker is a timeless classic that everyone can enjoy. It tells a story that resonates with all of us about the power of imagination and the importance of holding on to our dreams,” Dossev said. “The ballet is a beautiful reminder of the joy of the holiday season, and it teaches us that even in the darkest times, we should never lose hope. It is an honor for me to share this beautiful message with audiences through the art of ballet.”

This production will feature a new scenic drop for Act II, designed by Uldarico Sarmiento, an associate professor of Design and Digital Media at The University of Oklahoma Helmerich School of Drama, as well as new choreography for the variation known as the Chinese Tea, also in Act II.

Created by Hannah Jew, the new choreography is a lively ribbon dance and is intended to avoid racial stereotypes sometimes associated with the Chinese divertissement.

“In this production, the ribbon dance brings celebration and happiness, welcoming Clara and the Prince to the Land of Sweets,” Jew said. “There are vibrant colors from an array of brilliant ribbons used by the dancers as they move and create radiant designs.”

Now a professional dancer, Jew is an OU alum and has appeared in many University Theatre productions of The Nutcracker since 2000, as well as other School of Dance productions.

Kieren King, another OU alum, will be joining the production to dance in the role of the Trepak during the second weekend of performances. The Trepak is the popular character dance based on the traditional Russian and Ukrainian folk dance by the same name. King is now in his first season with the Limon Dance Company and will be performing courtesy of the Limon Dance Foundation.

The Nutcracker Boutique will be open for the purchase of memorable keepsakes and whimsical treats, while quantities last. The boutique will be in the lobby of the theatre and will open 30 minutes before and after performance times, as well as during intermission.

Patrons are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the College’s food pantry. The food pantry is available to all students in the College of Fine Arts, with access to food items at any time of day. A drop-off location will be set up inside the lobby.

Advance purchase tickets for The Nutcracker are $30 for adults, $25 for senior adults, OU employees and military and $10 for students and children, plus a fee. Tickets at the door are $35 for adults and $15 for students and children.

Tickets may be purchased online at theatre.ou.edu, by calling (405) 325-4101 or by visiting the OU Fine Arts Box Office located in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St. For accommodations, please call the OU Fine Arts Box Office at (405) 325-4101.