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Holiday classic ‘The Nutcracker’ returns Dec. 5


Satin ribbon, glittering chandeliers and ruffled skirts return to IU’s winter stage Dec. 5 for the opening performance of "The Nutcracker." The ballet, choreographed by Michael Vernon, is in its 56th season of the long-standing tradition. 

The ballet is danced to the music of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” which will be performed by the University orchestra conducted by Marzio Conti. This will be the IU Ballet and Opera Theater’s second major production this semester, following the fall production titled “Dark Meets Light” performed in October. 

Dancers Kyra Muttilainen and Mark Lambert returned to “The Nutcracker” this year as the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Muttilainen elaborated on the variety “The Nutcracker” offers in its celebratory nature.

“For (‘Dark Meets Light’) there are a lot of very specific pieces, but then for (‘The Nutcracker’), you see the party scene with many different characters and in Act II there are different suites from different parts of the world so you get a piece of everything,” Muttilainen said.

Both dancers have performed in the holiday ballet since they began their time at IU and performed as the same roles in 2018. 

“It’s a great opportunity to be able to work with Kyra now since I haven’t in the past,” Lambert said. “It’s really enjoyable and refreshing being able to do it again in a different light with someone new.”

The ballet is based on the story, written by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, named “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” The performance follows Clara throughout her colorful dreamland, where she discovers magical fairies and royalty after her beloved nutcracker comes to life.

The classical ballet has become wildly popular over the last century and often attracts younger patrons. Sometimes after performances, audience members wait to greet the dancers in their costumes. 

“I like when all the kids come up after and want to meet us,” Lambert said. “It’s just adorable and it’s really nice to see the joy on the kids’ faces because they might be inspired to do what we’re doing someday.”

This will be Lambert and Muttilainen’s final performance with ‘“The Nutcracker” at IU before they graduate. Muttilainen elaborated on how this affects rehearsals leading up to opening night.

“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Muttilainen said. “It’s been cool, but especially after having done it before, we can enjoy it a bit more and not stress out as much. Since it is the last one you want to put all of yourself into it.”

Performances will take place take place at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5-7 at the Musical Arts Center.  Matinee shows will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8. Ticket prices range from $21 to $42 and can be bought at the MAC Box office and at

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