A Nutcracker holiday tradition continues, this time featuring Columbia Classical Ballet’s production at the Koger Center for the Arts, with shows running throughout the first weekend in December. Here are a few things you may not already know about it.
“The Nutcracker” brings in the largest crowd of the year. Columbia Classical Ballet’s artistic director, Radenko Pavlovich, attributes the popularity of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece to its pageantry and spectacle. “The music of Tchaikovsky triggers wonderful holiday memories for our audiences and, for many, ‘The Nutcracker’ is the first noncommercial reminder of Christmas,” Pavlovich said.
The company features dancers from all over the world. Pavlovich says an international focus is an essential part of “The Nutcracker.”
“Few take note of ‘The Nutcracker’s’ international emphasis – more than ever, this year we bring a truly international cast to the stage which makes our production so real.”
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This year, the production features gold medalist Koyo Yanagishima from Japan, back for his second year.
“His skills and presence will take your breath away,” Pavlovich said.
The production changes each year depending on the dancers’ strengths. “Each production takes on the character of its strongest performers,” said Pavlovich, who himself has danced with Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. This experience, he adds, urges him to push the cast to bring their very best. “We make small adjustments every year to fit the character of that year’s cast and to experiment with things that we think will delight the audience,” he says.
There’s snow! This production features all the “Nutcracker” staples – soldiers, rats, a magical doll – and that rarely seen enigma in Columbia – snow!
For the audience, other popular moments include the surprise of children coming out from under the giant dress of “Mother Ginger.” Not to mention, Pavlovich said, “no one can resist the parade of young rats in their gray costumes – each one precious!”
He adds, “For all ages, the magical beauty of the grand pas with the Sugar Plum Princess is breathtaking.”
The production is going on the road. This year, the Columbia Classical Ballet is taking its “Nutcracker” to West Virginia as part of a longtime collaboration with the Charleston Ballet.
“We have a long relationship with Kim Pauley, the CEO and artistic director…we love working with her company and school,” Pavlovich said. “It’s such a great opportunity to bring our international dancers to a community that loves the arts and ballet, but otherwise would not have a chance to see the full performances Kim can produce with our collaborative effort.”
Columbia Classical Ballet was hit hard by the flooding in 2015. CCB celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, but it’s had to face some major challenges recently. Since taking on major damage during the 2015 flooding, the company opened a newly reconstructed studio, thanks in large part to the fundraising efforts of professional dancer Brooklyn Mack, who trained with Pavlovich, and star ballerina Misty Copeland.
Still, Pavlovich said, the company never stopped.
“Rain, flooding – the show must go on! Through the generosity of the city, county and state and all our corporate and individual sponsors, we have been able to completely refurbish our studios and present a full schedule of ballets to thousands of patrons, school children and seniors over the last two years. We’ve never been stronger due to the strength of our supporters!”
If you go
Columbia Classical Ballet presents “The Nutcracker”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 2; 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3.
WHERE: Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St.
TICKETS: $5-$35 at www.kogercenterforthearts.com or 803-777-5112.