Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker

Another season of festive, traditional theater and ballet offerings are in full swing. Vancouver’s dressing up for a fancy night on the town, and along with our abundance of cultural shows comes Tchaikovsky’s classic tale of a little girl who dreams of an adventure with a real-life nutcracker.

Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker

This is Goh Ballet’s sixth production of The Nutcracker, featuring a cast of over 200 local dancers of all ages, with a special appearance by Argentinian-born principal dancer Paloma Herrera as the Sugar Plum Fairy, marking her final year of touring. Her passionate performance is beautifully paired with the Prince (Dmitri Dovgoselets).

Charming sets are livened by the CanSing Youth Choir off to each side of the stage, while beautiful ballerinas dressed in sparkly white dresses dance as snow gently falls from the wintery sky against a mountain-top castle backdrop. Children in the audience were likely captivated by this dreamy atmosphere, while the rest of us were enchanted with the gorgeous scenery, costumes (Set and Costumer Designers Dinghao Zhang and Ming Li), and dancing.

Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker

Emmy-award winning Canadian choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes sees to a tight, nearly-flawless production that flows with little downtime right from the opening holiday party scene while Leslie Dala conducts musicians of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra below to great effect. The beautiful harp and trumpets are perfectly timed to carry the show through.

Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker

It’s a testament to Lighting Designer Pierre Lavoie’s talent that with each number in the second act, the stage can take on a new life simply via a new lighting palette.

Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker

The sultry pair of dancers (Ichiro Yoshino, Cierra Munro) during the Spanish number were a treat to watch, their near-neon blue and green outfits practically moulded to their lithe bodies. Michelle Khoo as Clara (December 18, 22 shows) was magnificent and full of spirit (Kiana Bell, Mikaela Milic, and Victoria Wardell appear on alternating nights). Adonis Daukaev is entertaining to watch as the magician Drosselmeyer who actually performs magic tricks to the delight of both the children on stage and those in the audience.

The Russian Dancers

The Russian dancers (Dustin Carnie, Jeffrey Gonek, Montana Hunter, Christian Lawry, Egor Terekhine) are superb in the Peppermints number.

The company makes it look easy, however a tiny fall taken from one of the ballerinas last night showed just how challenging a performance this is to perfect. Some of the children are quite acrobatic, adding a sense of joyful play to various numbers.

Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker
[Photo by David Cooper]

Colourful outfits include gold jackets, dancers spinning Japanese paper umbrellas, glittery dresses, a gingerbread man, plus a menagerie of animals. Goh’s Nutcracker is filled with animals, more so than any other production we’ve seen to date in Vancouver. Lots of stunning visual surprises (including a campy scene in act two with drag star Christopher Hunte in the role of Mere Gigogne) await Vancouver in this highly family-friendly evening.

We only wish that we hadn’t been continually distracted by some chatty neighbours to our left, right, and rear. People tend to forget that whispering is also audible. During quiet moments of any live performance these days, this is sadly ignored. And unlike in our past years of attending various Nutcracker productions, this time it wasn’t the children misbehaving.

Goh Ballet's The Nutcracker

All wrapped up in a highly-produced, neat red bow for the holidays, Goh Ballet’s The Nutcracker continues at The Centre in Vancouver through December 21. Visit the website for tickets and performance times.

Unless otherwise indicated, photos by David Marasigan.

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