“The Nutcracker”: A Holiday Tradition

As the year comes to a close, Central Florida Ballet has been preparing a special community performance. The company’s presentation of “The Nutcracker” continues its yearly tradition of revamping the classic tale while keeping the spirit of the original show alive.

Artistic Director Vladimir Bykov has been working with the company on this year’s show since September. Since “The Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition for many ballet companies, such as this one, it takes a team to give the show a breath of fresh air.

Through the years, Bykov has adjusted the show’s choreography to accentuate the dancers’ talents. And he says there are many criteria he considers during the casting process, including technical ability, artistry and aesthetics that help “to portray the lines and graces of a role.”

Gina Hatch, who plays the Maid and Mother Ginger, is an experienced ballet dancer and choreographer who has only missed one year of performing “The Nutcracker” with the company. This year, she’s a mentor for the younger dancers.

Hatch’s role as the Maid holds most of that responsibility. It requires her to create the atmosphere of each scene as the show progresses.

“I bring out a lot of props,” she says. “I facilitate the movement around the stage, people coming here, people coming there.”

As Mother Ginger, Hatch provides comic relief through exaggerated facial expressions as the younger dancers run out from under her skirt before they set up to perform the scene. Hatch plans to have fun with both of her characters.

Another change that envelopes Central Florida Ballet’s presentation of “The Nutcracker” is the portrayal of Maria (also known as Clara in other presentations) by Sara Komatsu. Maria is the story’s main character whose Christmas party turns into an adventure via the nutcracker toy that her godfather gives her.

“Some productions have [Maria] as a very young girl, and I feel in ours she’s a little bit more mature, which makes it more of an interesting character to play,” Komatsu says.

Despite the character’s age difference, Komatsu highlights Maria’s playful side in her performance. It’s an attribute that she feels comes naturally for her.

The show’s artistic elements add another major difference to the performance. Central Florida Ballet is known for its pyrotechnics, magic tricks and aerial acts, which very few ballet companies have. Christye Alan is an aerialist who will perform as the Arabian female lead. She brings the audience’s attention away from the lower portion of the stage as she performs tricks in the air.

“I think [the role] stands out because it’s not on the floor,” she says.

Komatsu points out that seeing “The Nutcracker” gets people into the holiday spirit, whether it’s the classic presentation or a modern one. Central Florida Ballet’s holiday performance will take place from Dec. 16-17 at the Orange County Convention Center’s Linda Chapin Theater.

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