Puppets, dancers, share stage for annual Nutcracker

Sgar-plum fairies will dance onstage at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, as Symphony Nova Scotia mounts its annual production of The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker was composed by Tchaikovsky in 1891. It was first performed by the St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Music Society in March 1892. Since then, numerous versions of The Nutcracker  have been performed, making it one of the most popular ballets in the world and a perennial Christmas favourite.
Symphony Nova Scotia has been performing The Nutcracker annually for the past 17 years. It is the only local production of the ballet with a live orchestra.The show is a collaborative effort between Symphony Nova Scotia, Mermaid Theatre, which is known for its use of puppets and animatronics in live stage shows, and Halifax Dance, one of HRM’s best-known dance schools.

Mermaid Theatre artistic director Jim Morrow said the idea for the show came in 1991 when Mermaid Theatre contacted Halifax Dance about mounting a production of The Nutcracker

Choreographer Lica Harding said Symphony Nova Scotia had begun laying the groundwork for its own production of The Nutcracker when it was approached by Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance.“It was a a lot of happy coincidences,” said Harding.is its incorporation of live performers and large puppets.The goal, Morrow said, was to do something unique and visually innovative. The puppets, which are controlled by the dancers, range in size from the two-metre Russian, which performs the Trepak Dance, to a six metre puppet called the Spirit of Winter. Harding said the key to realistic interactions between the live performers and the puppets is treating the puppets as characters. Harding also credited the show’s continuing popularity with the fact that attention is paid to the story. She said the characters always have motivations for their actions. “The story makes sense,” she said.



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