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IU Ballet Department presents 'The Nutcracker' for its 55th year


A little girl’s dream comes to life in the IU Ballet’s 55th annual production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker."

The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 at the Musical Arts Center.

With original choreography by Michael Vernon, dancers from the Jacobs School Ballet Department and the IU Pre-College program came together to tell the Christmas story of a young girl named Clara whose magician uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, gives her the gift of a toy soldier.

In Clara's dream, he brings the toy to life and throughout the dream, she watches the nutcracker battle the evil mouse king. She dances with snowflakes, sugarplum fairies and flowers alike. 

Although the Ballet Department puts on the show every year, Vernon said he works with the dances and the rest of the faculty to keep the choreography fresh.

“That’s the one thing about a university is there’s always new people," Vernon said. "Some years there’s more talent for certain roles, and some years there’s more talent for other roles so you know it sort of balances out.” 

Vernon has choreographed ballet at many high-profile dance companies across the country, and he finds IU to be a special place because of the resources available.

“I came for the resources like the stage and the orchestra," Vernon said. "At the time that I came, the ballet wasn’t part of a subscription. If you don’t mind me saying so, I raised the level of ballet so that it became part of the subscription of the opera."

One of the talented dancers he speaks of, sophomore Lilly Leech, is performing in the production for her second time this season. She said she believes this performance tops the one from last year.

“After doing it last year, I think the core understands how to breathe better with each other and how to really enhance the artwork that is 'The Nutcracker,'” Leech said.

Elizabeth Corsig is also no stranger when it comes to the ballet, and she said she also believes they’ve improved. 

“We have faculty that are really pushing us to make this performance the best possible caliber that it can be by wanting everything to be really clean and precise," Corsig said.

Both Corsig and Leech praised the production team for their work behind the scenes. 

“We couldn’t do it without them,” Leech said.

The Ballet Department makes the performances an educational experience for the dancers.

“If a dancer is not quite right for a role, we coach them. We make them comfortable in a role they might not be naturally suited for,” Vernon said.

Corsig said she thinks the show is magical. 

"It will get you in the holiday spirit, and it’s just a really special production because everyone pours their hearts and souls into it," she said.

Leech said the show provides a great experience for families to enjoy.

“If you love the holidays and you want to explore the university more, it’s just a really amazing part of IU that you just don’t want to miss out on,” Leech said.

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