The Holiday Dances into Hearts

With Christmas right around the corner, area dance companies are offering up a full menu of tasty options to help get you into the holiday spirit.

Leading the way is Festival Ballet Providence preparing what artistic director Mihailo Djuric refers to as the company’s annual “gift to the city of Providence.” With majestic sets, stunning costumes, dozens of Swarovski snow-flakes and Djuric’s original choreography, FBP’s Nutcracker is a Christmas treat not to be missed.

For a second year, students from the company’s official school and Adaptive Dance program, a specialized program introducing children with Down syndrome to dance, will join company members on stage during the Act I Party Scene. Their beaming with joy alongside the professional dancers perfectly captures the true holiday spirit.

Djuric is also pleased to announce that many of the principal and soloist roles will feature dancers and couples performing these roles for the first time. One cast will feature the company’s newest member Boyko Dossev, who spent the last 10 years with Boston Ballet, dancing the role of Cavalier. Opposite him will be rising star Kirsten Evans as his Sugar Plum Fairy.

The always lovely Vilia Putrius and Alan Alberto will share the leading roles with Dossez and Evans during alternating performances. For the last eight seasons, Putrius danced this role with her husband and audience favorite MIindaugus Bauzys; he retired after last season. Though Putrius and Alberto have partnered together many times, this will mark their debut together in The Nutcracker.

And, for a remarkable 17th season, Archie the Nutcracker Dog, will make his mad dash across the stage during the ballet’s opening scene. The Yorkshire Terrier has performed in over 120 Nutcrackers. Covered in a red Santa suit and bells, he always draws loud applause. With his advancing age, though, Archie’s gait has slowed a bit, but one can’t help but ponder whether this is because he is getting old or because he is just soaking in all the adoration.

FBP will move into PPAC from December 16 – 18. For more information visit festivalballet.com. For tickets visit ppacri.org or call 401-421-ARTS.

If you are looking for something a little different, then head to Newport and check out Island Moving Company’s The Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff. Now in their 15th season, IMC’s production will feature company dancers, guest artists and children from dance studios throughout RI. Swarovski will also be contributing some bling for a special Nutcracker display to commemorate the company’s Crystal anniversary.

Under artistic director Miki Ohlsen’s watchful eyes, this unique production set in Newport’s historic Rosecliff mansion takes audience members from one room to the next as the action unfolds. The mice and soldiers battle it out on the foyer’s grand marble staircase. Later, in the elegant dining room, the Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy entertain all as if they are invited guests to a family Christmas party.

IMC’s Nutcracker runs November 25 – December 2. For tickets or more information visit islandmovingco.org. These shows usually sell out, so act quickly!

Meanwhile, in Cranston’s newly restored Park Avenue Theatre, the state’s oldest ballet company, The State Ballet of Rhode Island (now in their 57th season!) will present their annual holiday production of Coppelia. SBRI had been performing in Rhode Island College’s Robert’s Hall for decades, but they are thrilled to be moving into Cranston’s new state-of-the-art theater.

SBRI co-founder and artistic director Herci Marsden’s comedic ballet follows the exploits of a naïve young villager, engaged to be wed, who falls in love with a doll. Meanwhile, his fiancée watches his impassioned pleas to try and get the doll to dance with him. Intent on teaching him a lesson, she enlists the help of her friends. Things, however, take an unexpected turn when they enter the eccentric doll maker’s “magic” workshop.

Set to Leo Delibes festive score, Coppelia is a classic story about love and forgiveness. Older audience members can take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about first love while children can watch in amazement as wooden dolls suddenly spring to life. With colorful costumes and traditional folk dances, the snowy happily-ever-after ending will fill all with Christmas cheer.

SBRI’s Coppelia runs from December 2 -3 with a “Pay What You Can Event” matinee on Friday, December 2 at 10am. For tickets or more information, visit stateballet.com or parktheatreri.com.

Providence Ballet Theatre adds to the merriment with artistic director Eva Marie Pacheco’s original adaption of Clement C. Moore’s classic holiday story Twas the Night Before Christmas. And, once again, local personality Bruce Newbury will be returning to narrate.

With vivid choreography, moving sets and dancing reindeer, this charming ballet tells Moore’s familiar story in a way never imagined. This year, PBT will also be moving into a new venue, McVinney Auditorium, which, Ms. Pacheco explains, allows for the addition of “magic snow” that will make audiences feel as if they are part of the show.

PBT’s Twas the Night Before Christmas runs December 15 – 16 at McVinney Auditorium. They will also be performing at The Prout School on December 18. For tickets or more information visit providenceballet.com.

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