A growing holiday tradition for Meridian and surrounding areas returns this week to the Temple Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker takes to the Temple stage Wednesday – a production that has delighted local audiences of all ages for seven years.
"We've had a tremendous response to this production in previous years," said Ken Rainey, who, along with Tony Sansone, is producer. "It is a great Christmas tradition and has something to offer everyone who sees it."
Now in its 21 season, Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker is the unique telling of the classic story of Marsha (aka Clara) and her Nutcracker Doll told with true Russian flair. The show is comprised of award-winning principals and corps de ballet who perform Olympic-worthy leaps, lifts and pirouettes in the classic holiday tradition. To the delight of audiences of all ages, the artists bring humor, charm, athletic prowess and Russian flair to Tchaikovsky's timeless score.
Tinkering with 150-year-old Nutcracker tradition, Moscow Ballet takes the show to new heights incorporating props, costumes, and a new level of dramatic depth. Exclusive to Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, the show adds a tribute to world peace, the "Dove of Peace," for which two dancers become one bird with a 20 foot wingspan.
The 2013 production includes 200 all new, hand-embellished costumes designed by Shakespearean expert Arthur Oliver and created in St Petersburg's oldest theatrical costume shop.
A special treat to local audiences will be area student dancers sharing the stage alongside the Russian company of 40 as part of the Dance With Us program. A generation of ballet students have had the rare opportunity of auditioning, rehearsing and performing with a professional, international touring ballet company.
Dance with Us includes partnerships with ballet studios in each tour city, which are carefully developed by Mary Gianonne Talmi, co-producer of Moscow Ballet’s North American tours. Moscow Ballet audition directors audition children in each city, rehearse with them for several days, and leave the local host studio to rehearse the children for six weeks prior to the performance.
"In the past, there have been about 60 students from area dance studios performing with the dance company. However, this year there will be 85 students from our performing," Rainey said.
The area dance students will perform as snowflakes, angels, party guests and sleigh riders.
Sponsors for this year's presentation of Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker are WTOK-TV, Structural Steel and Rush Foundation Hospital.
Want to go?
What: Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Temple Theatre for the Performing Arts, 2320 Eighth St.
Ticket Information: Call (601) 693-5353