FSU’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall will welcome one of the holiday season’s best-loved traditions this weekend, Dec. 8 and 9 as the Tallahassee Ballet stages its rendition of “The Nutcracker” with some very special guest performers.
In this age of political and cultural division, there seem few things that almost everyone can agree on. Although Tallahassee Ballet Artistic Director Tyrone Brooks ventured to suggest a love of “The Nutcracker” may be about as close to a universal unifying sentiment as we can get nowadays, for both audiences and dance companies like his.
“It’s one of the most prestigious and historical holiday classics. It really brings people together on so many levels,” he insisted.
Brooks believed one reason why this is so is not only the saga’s long association with the season itself, but also the glorious staging, magnificent music and magical imagery that brings an ancient fairy tale to life
. “You have the glitz and the glamour and lots of colors and the Sugar Plum Fairy. All the characters that especially young people can identify with. And if not with the characters, than certainly the music, from Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker.’”
But speaking of characters, there are LOTS of them in “The Nutcracker.” And with the Tallahassee Ballet being able to put around forty dancers at most on stage at any given time, this production required some of the performers to multi-task. One of the company’s principal dancers, Hope Eltomi, was among them.
“I perform the ‘Snow Queen’ for the orchestra performances. And I also perform the ‘Merlitons’ in Act Two. And then I perform as a ‘Pink Rose’ in ‘Flowers.” My favorite of all of those is definitely ‘Snow Queen.’ Tchaikovsky’s music for the snow scene is probably the most romantic and beautiful out there.”
Certainly this production is not the only “Nutcracker” out there. But Eltomi insisted the Tallahassee Ballet company’s rendition has a unique spirit and flair.
“I think we bring something that’s different than, say if you saw the New York City Ballet perform it. They are amazing technicians and they have their own heart, too. But I think we bring something different as a company. We have our own story to tell. As a Tallahasseean, I think we should be very proud to have such an outstanding company here in this city.”
In addition to the company, Artistic Director Tyrone Brooks revealed there will be some extra attractions to this weekend’s performances.
“This year our guest artists are: Maizyalet Velazquez and Luca DePoli, courtesy of the Cincinnati Ballet. And also our own Mayor of Tallahassee John Dailey who will be performing ‘Mother Ginger,’ so we’re all excited about that!”
Other sources of excitement, added Brooks, will include the masterful choreography of K.K. Cashin and the accompanying live orchestral fireworks, enhanced by the remarkable acoustics of the venue.
“Ruby Diamond on Saturday, December 8th at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 9th, a 2:30 p.m. matinee.”
There will also be a children’s matinee Saturday morning at 10:30.