Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Sugar plum visions: ‘The Nutcracker’

It has become an American Christmas tradition to go see Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

The Washington Ballet has breathed new life into the classic play, making what was once timeless now everlasting.

Instead of in the usual English high society of the late 1800s, the Washington Ballet’s version, choreographed by Septime Webre, begins in Georgetown. But the essence of the tale is not lost, for 19th-century Americana lies in every facet of the banquet. A jovial post-Civil War spirit is in air as the men parade in their Union uniforms. When the little boys are given gifts, they pounce on their sisters with toy tomahawks and Native American feathered headdresses instead of with usual drums and swords of a British regiment. Even the life-size dolls that Clara’s godfather, Drosselmeyer, presents for entertainment wear the token red, white and blue.

When dealing with an established work, there is always a fine line between heightening what was, and creating a complete perversion of the original. Creator Septime Webre and the Washington Ballet deal with every change to The Nutcracker in such a delicate manner that each variation is delivered to the already bedazzled audience as a merely pleasant surprise, rather than an aberration from the original.

The set seems to grow by not stage pulleys or ropes, but by a never-ending spell that engulfs the audience into such an unquestioning daze that revolutionary soldiers fighting a rat king and the introduction of an entire dream world of cherry-blossoms on the shores the Potomac all seem natural.

The eye candy doesn’t stop there, for with the Nutcracker’s transformation into a prince reminiscent of Clara’s favorite suitor at the evening’s ball, a sparkling wintry forest becomes a gateway for them to enter the land of the Sugarplum fairy, and all the D.C. treasures that await them there. All the costumes are dazzling, from the most fantastic to the most simple, chosen with such great care for a blending color scheme.

The dancers bring such vitality to the performance that the audience remains entranced with the ferocity of their feet, hypnotized by the rhythmic bounding of toe shoes.

The Washington Ballet possesses a gift this holiday season and anyone lucky enough to witness that gift will not only rekindle a Christmas memory from their past, but establish a new tradition in holiday entertainment for years to come.

Septime Webre’s Nutcracker will be at the Warner Theater from Dec. 1-24.

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