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Holiday traditions continue with The Nutcracker at Bridges

Enjoy a treasured holiday tradition with family and friends at southern California’s most spectacular production of The Nutcracker from Inland Pacific Ballet (IPB).

The Nutcracker comes to life in this magnificent ballet comprised of beautiful sets, dazzling costumes and more than 80 dancers on stage. IPB will offer 10 performances from December 9 to December 23 at three theatres—Bridges Auditorium in Claremont, Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga and the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside.

This annual holiday show tells the story of a young girl named Clara who receives a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve and sets out on a wondrous journey to the Land of the Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets.

Featuring toy soldiers, life-sized dancing dolls, falling snow, a fantastic dream with battling mice, dancing snowflakes, waltzing flowers, new Gingerbread characters in an updated choreographed Mother Ginger scene, Tchaikovsky’s classic score and the Sugar Plum Fairy stir the imagination. Young audience members can look forward to meeting and greeting the cast after the performance for photos and autographs.

Returning principal dancers include Allynne Noelle as the Sugar Plum Fairy with Thomas Garrett and Evan Swenson as the Cavalier, Cameron Schwawz as Arabian, Jonathan Sharp as Drosselmeyer, Reece Taylor as Mouse King and Arabian. Principal character artist Brandon J will perform as Mouse King and Dragon Master. Soloists Michael Milligan will take the roles of Dr. Stahlbaum and Dragon Master with Hannah Leah Oeding as Snow Queen and Spanish, and Chanel Tekin as Arabian and Spanish.

New principal dancers include Madison Morris, a southern California native recently returned from dancing with Houston Ballet, who will grace the roles of Dew Drop, Snow Queen and Mrs Stahlbaum. Gracie Holway, who hails from Michigan, will dance the Sugar Plum Fairy, among other roles, and Jessica Gadzinski will perform the role of the Arabian Princess and Dew Drop.

IPB’s two new soloists are Kelsey Dorr from Lake Forest in Orange County, who among other roles will dance a Rose in Waltz of the Flowers, and Lawrence Chen—a young artist from Chino Hills who is also pursuing a mathematics degree at Pomona College—will be dancing The Nutcracker Prince, the Spanish Soloist, Russian and the Soldier Doll. 

“We are always excited to share our beautiful production of the Nutcracker with loyal fans and new audiences,” Artistic Director Victoria Koenigs said. “This year we are thrilled to introduce five outstanding new dancers who have just joined the company. You don’t want to miss these inspiring dancers who all bring fresh and unique qualities to their roles.”

The Nutcracker was first presented in 1892 at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ballet was an adaptation of the 1816 story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by E.T.A. Hoffman. The ballet was choreographed by Lev Ivanov with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Marius Petipa, the reigning choreographer at the Maryinsky, fell ill, so the job passed to Ivanov. Tchaikovsky only reluctantly accepted the commission to compose the score which, when completed, he considered “infinitely worse than Sleeping Beauty.”

At the premiere, the ballet was deemed a complete failure. More than 60 years and many productions would pass before The Nutcracker would become a staple of the repertoire in ballet companies around the world and one of the universal traditions of the holiday season.

IPB’s educational outreach program, “A Young Person’s Guide to the Ballet,” is back this season for students from local area schools. Students are encouraged to participate in simple movement activities in their seats and then view the professional ballet performance, followed by a question and answer session. Teachers also have access to a free study guide to continue the conversation back in the classroom with pre- and post-performance activities aligned through the California State Content Standards for Dance, California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and the California English Language Development Standards. For many of these students, this will be the first time they get to experience live performance art, being in a theater and learning about ballet.

Children’s tickets for IPB’s The Nutcracker start at $23, senior tickets start at $38 and adult tickets start at $41, with premium seats at $59. Group discounts are available.

Performances take place from December 9 and 10 at 2 p.m. and December 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College, 450 N. College Way, in Claremont.

Additional regional performances are offered on December 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and December 16 and 17 at 2 p.m. at Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga; and December 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and December 23 at 2 p.m. at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit ipballet.org.

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