Russian Dance

There are three productions of Moscow Ballet currently touring The Nutcracker.

It may seem a little early for the holiday ballet The Nutcracker, but maybe – like that song from the musical Mame – we just “need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, currently touring the United States, brings their rigorous training and elaborate artistic direction to Monterey. The annual tour began in 1989-92, in the time of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost, when the Soviet Union made overtures of more openness with the West.

How times have changed.

But the Nutcracker, a 127-year-old ballet scored by the great Russian composer Tchaikovsky, remains the same. Mostly.

“This one uses Tchaikovsky’s complete score,” says Sally Michael-Keyes, the company’s director of public relations for North America. The main character, known to Westerners as Claire, here is named Masha. And instead of traveling to the land of sweets to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy, it’s the land of peace and the first creature encountered there is a dove.

“The dove is created by two dancers,” Michael-Keyes says. “Each one with a 10 foot long feathered wing, who dance together, creating the vision of a bird on stage. It’s very beautiful.”

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And there is a local component. SpectorDance has lent their dance studio to host one of Moscow Ballet’s ballerinas who has auditioned and rehearsed local kids ages 6-18 to dance in the performances this weekend.

Akiva Talmi, a producer, was quoted on CNN in 2017 saying, “There’s a tremendous amount of misunderstanding, through many many years [of] poor politics. Truthfully, culture has always been used as a vehicle for improving relations.”

Maybe we need that, right this very minute.

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