BWW Reviews: TERRACOTTA PRINCE A Fresh Take on Nutcracker

My mother took me to the ballet when I was young. I came home with a souvenir bouquet and would not stop listening or dancing to the score, imagining a giant Christmas tree and those nasty rats scurrying across my living room floor. I like to imagine the magic of theatre and the arts creating that same wonder for people all over the world.

Different countries have different traditions but share a common marvel in the arts. As my program from Saturday night's performance of "Nutcracker: The Terracotta Prince" notes, "Although the original Nutcracker was first performed during the Christmas season, the ballet is considered primarily a holiday entertainment only in America." How to translate an American tradition to other nations and then bring that tradition back in a new light? Dennis Nahat of Theatre Ventures International and the Dalian Acrobatic Troupe had an idea, one that made its American premiere in time for the holidays last week.

Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" often becomes such a spectacle (with even a burlesque version or two in existence); one wonders why the holiday classic was not turned into an acrobatic act years ago. Perhaps you never thought of it before. Yet at the suggestion, something starts. Yes. Yes, that could work quite well. And it does, if only its ill-behaved audience would learn some etiquette.

Wang Yi Rui and Zou Yu play the young Marie and her prince in this Chinese acrobatic version of the classic tale. Tchaikovsky's music stays the same, with the exception of a few added bits courtesy of the Orient. Instead of a grand pas de deux, Marie and her Terracotta Prince perform an elegant dance that includes point ballet on Yu's shoulders and head. The prince defends Marie from airborne ninjas who swoop down, do multiple flips countered by flips from the prince's soldiers, and surround the prince while spinning inside hoops.

More On: Dennis Nahat, Cirque du Soleil, Bill Maher,

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Harmony Wheeler A theater lover since childhood, Harmony Wheeler has done Marketing and Public Relations work for Sierra Repertory Theatre, Hillhouse Opera Company and other companies. She graduated with high honors from Biola University with her degree in Journalism and an emphasis in Public Relations. In addition to working for the Gallo Center for the Arts, MJM Entertainment Group, Biola University Marketing and Communications, 6th Street PR, and Zimbabwe Gecko Society, Wheeler has written for The Modesto Bee, The Chimes, Static MultiMedia,, TUFW Alumnus Magazine, Christian Book Previews, The Christian Communicator, and Church Libraries Magazine. Her photos appear in The Dominican Dream, a book available for purchase through Biola University's Journalism Department. Her photography and video work can be found at To learn more about Harmony Wheeler, or to contact her for work possibilities, visit

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