Not your ordinary “Nutcracker”

How do I put this delicately? I like ballet. Yep, and I can’t say I always did. My daughter attended a performing arts high school and of course my own education and professional experience as a performer as well as my personal relationships left me pretty well-schooled in the fine arts, including dance. As a kid I was dragged, not likely kicking and screaming but ADD spinning at least, to the ballet by my mom. I even saw an aging Nureyev a few years before he died at 54 on a tour of the US, still able to carry himself in an extraordinary way. Like an aging Bobby Orr on ice, or Mickey Mantle hitting one out in an old-timers game.

And yes, I have nodded off at my share over the years,

As a sports guy, I saw dancers mostly in one, very respectful way: they are athletes. Of course as I grew older, the sight of beautiful, graceful women in ballet attire was enough to maintain my attention, and as I grew more and more experienced at what exactly the dancers went through to create their art, I was hooked on the sheer athleticism, not to mention the obvious artistic depths that come from a good dance concert.

Which brings me to Oklahoma City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”, performed with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, with one more weekend of performances December 18th-20th at the Oklahoma City Civic Center. Go. If you have traditions within your family, include everybody. The ticket prices are, as always, accessible. The orchestration, world-class. But most importantly, the show is just plain fun. My only regret after attending last weekend’s Saturday matinee? That I couldn’t have swept up a handful of special kiddos to fill out the empty seats. But there’s always next year!

Nutcracker can be pretentious. OKC ballet’s version of E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, under Artistic Director Robert Mills, is precious.

The musical score, one of Tchaikovsky’s master works, can be  harsh and tedious. (Sorry.) Under the hand of maestro Joel Levine, it is soaring and playful.

The Nutcracker can be loooooongggggg and, thanks to the many children in the show, painfully sloppy. This Nutcracker is technically unique, fast-paced and skillful, from the tiniest Little Angel to the most statuesque King.

Nutcracker can be hard to follow, believe it or not (certainly to the less knowledgeable ballet-goer), yet OKC Ballet’s is like reading a perfectly painted picture book, mesmerizing to the youngster and secretly ticklish to the grown-up.

The costumes are fun, and fanciful. I imagine little girls and boys in the audience can see themselves wearing them, playing in them, dancing in them. Dreaming dreams in the same colors and whimsy.

And did you catch the key word in the previous graph? Boys. Yep, boys who would-be Sooner linemen, boys who will be Cowboys hoops stars. Boys who are just plain boys can enjoy it, too. It’s just a little Christmas fun, after all. So when you make plans to create a holiday family tradition, dads, don’t leave your selves out. And bring junior along, too.

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