Moscow Ballet’s GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER at Robinson Center for two performances today

This Christmas season give your family the gift of Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker!

Step into a simpler time filled with sweet dreams and Christmas magic. With world-class artists, over 200 dazzling costumes, stunning sets, towering puppets and soaring birds, don’t miss your chance to ring in the holidays with this acclaimed Christmas extravaganza.

The New York Times, “Hot Ticket!” Celebrate this cherished holiday tradition and relive the dream with Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. Get tickets for the whole family now!

MOSCOW BALLET’S GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER will perform at 3:00 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 26, 2019.  Platinum tickets include Premium Nutcracker Ornament, a Moscow Ballet Book, and a pre-show Meet and Greet.  Gold Circle tickets receive a Premium Nutcracker Ornament and the official Moscow Ballet Book.  VIP ornaments and books can be purchased at the merchandise table.  Meet and Greet will begin 45 minutes prior to the showtime and will meet at the merchandise table.

New York Times, Chief Dance Critic, “Knockout… Brimful with feeling…Expansive… Kids…were wide-eyed with delight”

51 years since first full-length, locally produced THE NUTCRACKER was presented in Little Rock at Robinson Auditorium

In December 1968:

  • the final stretch of Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Memphis was completed. (Little did anyone know that milestone merely meant work would change from construction to non-stop reconstruction.)
  • Talks were underway about merging private Little Rock University with the University of Arkansas system (which would be finalized in the summer of 1969).
  • On the TV on December 19, “The Little Drummer Boy” TV special was being shown for the first time.  Also, Arkansan Glen Campbell was one of the guest stars on Bob Hope’s Christmas TV special.

For those who did not sit at home watching TV, at Robinson Auditorium on December 19 and 20, 1968, the nascent Little Rock Civic Ballet (a forerunner to today’s Ballet Arkansas) presented its first production of THE NUTCRACKER.

Under the direction and choreography of D. Cater Cranford, this production featured 135 performers, a fifty piece orchestra under the direction of Vasilios Priakos, and the largest number of stagehands in Robinson Auditorium’s history.  The production cost $25,000 to mount.  That would be the equivalent of just over $184,775 in 2019.

A large portion of the money went to renting sets from Dallas for the production. The costumes were designed and sewn by Cranford.  He also appeared as Drosselmeyer in the production.  His wife Lorraine, assisted with the choreography and also appeared on stage.

Though most of the dancers were local, the leading roles were danced by Bill Martin-Viscont, Nathalie Krassovak, Linda DiBona, Margo Dean and Carl Tressler.  Some of the dancers who had rehearsed for the production were unable to participate due to several cast members coming down with flu in the days immediately prior to the production.

The production sold out both public performances as well as the daytime matinee for school children.  The dress rehearsal on December 18 was opened up for children with disabilities to attend.

Though The Nutcracker has not been presented in Little Rock every year since 1968, it has certainly been on stage most of the years since then.  The overwhelming response to this production set the stage for it to become a much-loved holiday tradition in the city.

2019 edition of Ballet Arkansas’ THE NUTCRACKER is this weekend!

Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker Spectacular is the largest holiday production in the State of Arkansas, and a beloved holiday classic that is perfect for all ages.

Featuring recently updated choreography, Ballet Arkansas’ production has been a holiday tradition for families across the state for 41 years. The production features the talents of the 15 professional dancers of Ballet Arkansas, and a community cast of more than 225 children and adults from every corner of the state.

The community cast rehearses for 11 weeks to prepare for the performances and consists of multiple generations of cast members – with many cast members participating in Ballet Arkansas’ productions for more than 20 years.

All public performances feature live music by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey Robson, and either The Mount Saint Mary Concert Belle’s, directed by Chelsea Frazier, or the Episcopal Collegiate Choirs, directed by Stephen Vano, who will sing during the infamous snow scene at the end of Act I.

Take a journey with Clara Stahlbaum to the “Land of the Sweets” this Holiday, and enjoy the magic of the Nutcracker Spectacular, set to Pyotry Illyich Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score.

The Nutcracker Spectacular takes the stage at the Robinson Performance Hall on December 13-15, 2019. Ballet Arkansas will present four public performances, Friday, December 13, 7:30 pm, Saturday, December 14, 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, and Sunday December 15, 2:30pm. Purchase ‘sweet seats’ to sit in the best seats in the house, and receive a gift, for $99. Tickets range from $18-102 and are available here or by calling Celebrity Attractions Box Office at (501)-244-8800. Tickets on sale June 3, 2019.

Learn more about Ballet Arkansas’ 2019/20 Season at www.balletarkansas.org.

Ballet Arkansas, the foremost professional ballet company of the State of Arkansas, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Through a roster of talented artists and dancers, Ballet Arkansas presents vibrant and diverse repertory featuring classical, neoclassical, and contemporary works by world renowned choreographers. A driving force in the State, Ballet Arkansas is committed to creative collaboration, community outreach, high quality dance education, the evolution of arts programming across the region, and is devoted to making high quality professional dance performance accessible to all. The productions of Ballet Arkansas promise to enrich the lives of all in attendance.

40 years since the first Ballet Arkansas production of THE NUTCRACKER

Burton and Tuzas from 1979 production

One of the sure signs of the Christmas season is the return of The Nutcracker to ballet companies across America.  Though the Little Rock Civic Ballet had first presented this ballet in 1968, by the mid-1970s, it was no longer performing the complete ballet.

In 1978, the Little Rock Civic Ballet was reorganized and re-christened Ballet Arkansas.  That first year, it did not perform The Nutcracker.  But on December 11, 1979, the tradition returned as Ballet Arkansas presented its first production of The Nutcracker.  It was once again at Robinson Center Music Hall.

The production was directed and choreographed by Lorraine Cranford, Ballet Arkansas’ Artistic Director.  The music was provided by musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra under the baton of guest conductor David Schimmell.  This was the first time in several years that the ballet had been accompanied by the ASO.

The guest artists were Anne Burton and Tanju Tuzer, both from Dallas.  The local dancers including David Twillie, Mirana, Peggy Howard, Carol Campbell, Jeffrey Stuart, Haven Cooper, Buddy Harris, Chris Clarke and Jeff Johns.

Tickets were $3.00 for the matinee. Evening performances ranged from $5 to $10 a person.

18 Cultural Events from 2018 – Ballet Arkansas’ 40th anniversary THE NUTCRACKER

Ballet Arkansas’ 40th Anniversary Nutcracker Spectacular took the stage at the Robinson Performance Hall December 6–9, 2018 for four main stage performances and two student matinee performances. The largest holiday production in Central Arkansas, Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker has been a tradition in Little Rock for decades.

A two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker is a timeless story about a young girl’s journey into a magical land, The Land of the Sweets, on one winter’s eve.

Joining Ballet Arkansas’ fourteen professional dancers onstage was a community cast made up of over 200 children and adults, including local dancers, previous Ballet Arkansas dancers, Ballet Arkansas board members.

The production is enhanced with live music provided by the talented musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Geoffrey Robson, and the ethereal voices of the Mount St. Mary Academy Concert Belles and the Episcopal Collegiate Choirs,

“The Nutcracker is a beloved Holiday classic that families look forward to each year as a part of their traditions, and this year’s production features fully updated choreography, a handful of holiday surprises, and much more!” says Associate Artistic Director, Catherine Fothergill.

In 2017, Michael Fothergill, Executive and Artistic Director of the organization took steps to re-vitalize the choreography in the 2nd Act. This year, Ballet Arkansas have renovated the 1st Act, while maintaining some of the time honored and fan favorite traditions. This updated show celebrates the past, breathing new life into the organization’s most beloved holiday tradition.

For the 2nd year in a row, Ballet Arkansas live streamed the matinee performances to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Little Rock Look Back: 1968 THE NUTCRACKER is largest production to date at Robinson

In December 1968, the final stretch of Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Memphis was completed. (Little did anyone know that milestone merely meant work would change from construction to non-stop reconstruction.)  Talks were underway about merging private Little Rock University with the University of Arkansas system.  On the TV on December 19, “The Little Drummer Boy” TV special was being shown for the first time.  Also, Arkansan Glen Campbell was one of the guest stars on Bob Hope’s Christmas TV special.

For those who did not sit at home watching TV, at Robinson Auditorium on December 19 and 20, 1968, the nascent Little Rock Civic Ballet (a forerunner to today’s Ballet Arkansas) presented its first production of THE NUTCRACKER. (There appears to be some debate as to whether this was the first complete production of this ballet in Little Rock.)

Under the direction and choreography of D. Cater Cranford, this production featured 135 performers, a fifty piece orchestra under the direction of Vasilios Priakos, and the largest number of stagehands in Robinson Auditorium’s history.  The production cost $25,000 to mount.  That would be the equivalent of just over $181,000 in 2018.

A large portion of the money went to renting sets from Dallas for the production.  The costumes were designed and sewn by Cranford.  He also appeared as Drosselmeyer in the production.  His wife Lorraine, assisted with the choreography and also appeared on stage.

Though most of the dancers were local, the leading roles were danced by Bill Martin-Viscont, Nathalie Krassovak, Linda DiBona, Margo Dean and Carl Tressler.  Some of the dancers who had rehearsed for the production were unable to participate due to several cast members coming down with flu in the days immediately prior to the production.

The production sold out both public performances as well as the daytime matinee for school children.  The dress rehearsal on December 18 was opened up for children with disabilities to attend.

Though The Nutcracker has not been presented in Little Rock every year since 1968, the overwhelming response to this production set the stage for it to become a much-loved holiday tradition in the city.