Masha and her Nutcracker Prince in Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker. Photo courtesy of the production.

Keeping up the tradition of attending the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker is a must for the holiday season. This year, Syracuse audiences had the opportunity to see the remarkable show again when the Dove of Peace tour played The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater for two performances. Once again, the superb production featured all of the beauty, elegance, and detail that the Moscow Ballet is known for with Great Russian Nutcracker.

The Moscow Ballet's Community Engagement program Dance With Us affords thousands of students the unique opportunity to dance with the pros each year in this production. In the Syracuse area, the company leveraged its 26-year partnership with local dance school, Dance Centre North. Director Cathy Napolitano Mucci and Assistant Rehearsal Director Brianna Rossi guided 53 local children through the experience and the results were splendid. The students of various ages took on the roles of party guests, mice, snowflakes, snow maidens, and more.

The Great Russian Nutcracker, as you might have guessed, is different than other Nutcracker productions in that the Clara-like character is named Masha (Iryna Borisova) and she guided by their exclusive Dove of Peace to the Land of Peace and Harmony. Other interpretations of the Nutcracker, of course, feature Clara traveling to the Land of Sweets.

But let's back up. The dollmaker Uncle Drosselmeyer (the poised and dramatic Kostyantin Tsaprika) crafts away, and conjures up dolls, which entertain the guests - including Masha - at Mayor Stalhbaum's (Artem Krupitsky) home on Christmas Eve. His Kissy doll (Iryna Protsenko) and the Harlequinn doll (Kostyantin Vinovoy) were a particular delight thanks to their comedic charm and expressive moves. Sergey Chumakov and Elena Petrichenko also stole the spotlight as the Moor dolls.

Masha, of course, receives a Nutcracker (Mikhail Sherbakov) from Drosselmeyer and that beloved Nutcracker becomes the center of her dream. The Rat King (Roman Baglay) and mice appear and the Rat King battles with the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker comes alive and then becomes the Prince (Sergey Kliatchin). Masha and the Nutcracker Prince then journey to the Snow Forest meeting Father Christmas and the Snow Maiden.

The Dove of Peace escorts Masha to the Land of Peace and Harmony, with the Dove of Peace being the highlight of the production.

Sergey Chumakov and Elena Petrichenko are the two hypnotizing acro-ballet dancers - portraying the dove - that performed the Act II overture. The goal of this number is to promote a message of peace and unity through the traditional Christmas tale. The number not only achieved this goal, but was one of the most memorable and beautiful dance routines in the show. It demonstrated the dancers' strength and the relationship with one another. The partnership is particularly important because each dancer had a 10-foot wing and the two needed to move in unison to form the majestic and beautiful white dove with a 20-foot wing span. The costumes, the dancers' flexibility, the trust they have with one another, and the beauty made this number truly unique and mesmerizing.

In the Land of Peace and Harmony all the animals (which are life-size puppets in the heritage numbers) and humans live in harmony with one another. The puppets featured in the heritage numbers included a bull for the Spanish number, a unicorn for the French number, a bear for the Russian number, a bird for the Chinese number, and an elephant for the Arabian number. The puppets were a delight for the audience. They also added some comedic elements not only to the numbers themselves, but also the production overall. Case in point: when each puppet took a bow.

Chumakov and Petrichenko once again stole the spotlight in the seductive and jaw-dropping Arabian number. However, the heritage numbers were all high energy and enchanted the audience in their own unique. The performers captured the different cultures on display in each variation.

The festivities come to an end with the Waltz of the Flowers, which featured some graceful and flowing rose gold-colored costumes. Masha and the Prince then dazzled us with their unforgettable dance duet. Borisova's beauty and elegance on stage is perfection and Kliatchin's daring confidence is splendid.

The Great Russian Nutcracker Dove of Peace tour is truly breathtaking and delights audiences all over. If you have seen it many times, or are seeing it for the first time, this ballet does not disappoint. It showcases some of the most impressive dancing ever to be seen.

Running time: Two hours with one twenty-minute intermission.

The Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker Dove of Peace tour performed for two performances at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater in Syracuse, New York on December 20, 2018. This review is of the 4:00 PM performance. For tickets and information on upcoming performance of the Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker, click here. For information on upcoming events at The Oncenter, click here. For information on Dance Centre North, click here.

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From This Author Natasha Ashley


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