Moscow Ballet presents 25th North American Anniversary Tour of THE GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER

In November and December, theatres across the US and Canada play host to the 25th Anniversary production of Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker in North America. Moscow Ballet tours the acclaimed Christmas ballet annually to over 125 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The performance includes some of the best trained ballerinas and danseurs in the world, sumptuous costumes and hand-painted backdrops complete with Russian cultural touches. The production is a significant undertaking with three touring companies traveling and presenting over 187 performances in just two months! The local (IATSE crews, in many cases) labor generated by the tours for stage crews alone totals more than 12,903 hours!

The lighting for the 2017 25th Anniversary production is updated with LD Don Fox (Don Fox Designs, LLC) using a combination of arc source and LED moving lights to pop the color and foil highlighting in the hand-painted backdrops while showcasing the movement of the dancers attired in sumptuous and extraordinarily detailed costumes. The lighting rig consists of Martin Mac Viper Profiles, Clay Paky Mythos II's, German Light Products impression X4's, and Chroma-Q Colorforce 48's for the drops. The show uses venue front-of-house lighting and travels with everything for the booms and over the stage.

"I have toured with the Moscow Ballet twice before, and have always wanted to be able to add more texture in the side-lighting," says Fox, "so I decided to take advantage of the fantastic capabilities of the Clay Paky Mythos II as a wide-angle fixture and decided to put these on the ground as shin-busters. Everyone loves their ability, as hybrids, to create tight beams, but these lights are also great when they are opened up. Given the wide variety of venues the show plays, with sometimes dramatically different wing dimensions and depths, that nice wide zoom, plus the fact that the fixture is a profile, really provides a great potential in the variety of looks from that low side position."

For the top boom fixtures and for the overhead moving washes, Fox opted for the German Light Products (GLP) X4 moving wash. "For an extensive and large-scale tour like this, flexibility is really important. The brightness, zoom, thrifty power consumption, light weight, and 6-per-case packing scheme all made the X4 a great choice. In some cities the show is playing at the beautiful, but older, opera houses or vaudeville theatres, and while the deep tradition and history of those venues is inspiring, the hemp and sandbag line sets still in use in some of them, can present a challenge. The X4 allows us to preserve as much of the look of the show as possible in these theatre spaces too. The backdrops also employ a beautiful foil technique for the highlights, so hitting these drops from a balcony-rail angle or other low angle is critical to getting that foil to catch the light and reflect towards the audience. Each tour is taking an extra case of X4s so that the lighting directors have a lightweight fixture option they can put to work in venues where there is no balcony rail position or where the front light might need some supplementation in order to catch the foil highlights."

Fox goes on to say, "The show travels with beautifully painted legs and borders, so I'm not really concerned with shuttering everything off the legs. I actually want some light to spill on and provide ambiance on those elements to keep the stage picture framed in Carl Sprague's gorgeous scenic art. Illuminating Sprague's work falls largely to the Chroma-Q Colorforce 48" fixtures on the tour. This fixture is such a cyc/backdrop workhorse. The brightness is what this show needs. I have toured with the 72" version in the past and they are phenomenal, but our goal of flexibility in the rig doesn't just apply to how the light is used onstage; we also have to be very conscious of how everything packs into the truck, so I opted for a few more of the 48" version to satisfy the linear footage required, and those pack in a case size that works better for us in the truck."

For overhead profiles, Fox chose the Martin Mac Viper Profiles. He comments, "The Vipers are, for their class of fixture, lighter, brighter, and have more effect possibilities than many other options. In many venues the stage deck becomes a large portion of the stage picture and backdrop for the patrons who are seated in the upper seating. I wanted to be sure I could punch through the washes effectively to texture the stage deck, with enough options in the fixture to satisfy the number of looks required in the Act II Variations. The two rotating gobo wheels plus an effects band and prism options really give this fixture a lot of capability and variety."

All of the fixtures chosen for this year's production are auto-ranging to allow for 208v or 120v supply, even though the show travels with a typical three-phase power distributor supplying 208v via Socapex to the rig. "Flexibility, again, is the watchword here... Most venues have a company switch that we tap into and distribute, but there are a couple of houses where that just isn't possible - so the ability to adapt as much of the lighting rig to the conditions of the venue is critical to preserving the look of the show. Being able to power fixtures on 120v is sometimes useful."

Fox is using ETC's Eos software on Ion consoles to control the show. "Eos is the right platform for a theatrical ballet production like this one. The Ion is a proven console that packs down fairly small but has more than enough capacity for the rig." SACN is sent through a network run (or sometimes routed through the venue's network infrastructure) to a DMX gateway onstage which splits the universes and feeds instructions to the fixtures. "ETC's 24/7 customer support is legendary, and with a tour like this, with three companies in different venues nearly every day for two months, knowing that support is readily available is fantastic for me and the other lighting directors, Gonzalo Suarez and Ross Blitz."

In the end, the goal is to create beautiful environments for the Moscow Ballet dancers that respects the traditions of classical ballet by showcasing the scenic art, the intricate and colorful costumes, the breathtaking movement and choreography, and, most of all, this timeless tale of a little girl, a nutcracker, and a dream.

Tickets in are available at .

Moscow Ballet - 2017 marks Moscow Ballet's 25th consecutive year touring North America performing the acclaimed story ballets the Great Russian Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and more. The company is known for presenting award-winning Ballerinas and Danseurs, from Lilia Sabitova in 1994 to Honored Artist of Russia Tatiana Predenia in 2002 to Andrey Batalov, former Principal Danseur with the Mariinsky Theatre in 2016. The company performs more than 100 engagements annually across Canada and the United States' to sell-out audiences in the some of the finest performing arts venues. In addition to public performances, Moscow Ballet's North America tours have always included community engagement programs. "Dance with Us" shares the Russian Vaganova ballet training with over 6000 American dance students annually bringing them on stage in ancillary roles to perform side-by-side with the professionals. Underwritten by Moscow Ballet, the program was developed by choreographer and co-producer Mary Giannone Talmi. "New Horizons - A Children's Program for Life" is a cultural immersion program benefitting thousands of children across the country annually and Musical Wunderkind also connects the Russian dancers directly with American children and young adults. In addition, many Moscow Ballet performances have a fund-raising component for organizations such as hospitals, children's museums and more.

Talmi Entertainment - is the exclusive representation for Moscow Ballet's North American Tours which occur annually in more than 100 cities, from NYC to LA, and Miami to Calgary. Under Talmi Entertainment management Moscow Ballet delivers unparalleled Russian artistry in the classic story ballets Great Russian Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Swan Lake and more. Talmi Entertainment was founded by award-winning Juilliard School alumnus, composer, conductor and producer, Akiva Talmi.

Related Articles View More Dance Stories

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram