The Nutcracker | Project Discovery

Every December, the Columbia City Ballet performs The Nutcracker ballet. The story was written by E. T. A. Hoffman, with music composed by Tschaikovsky. This ballet masterpiece has become one of the most popular ballets of all time. The story is about a girl named Clara, who receives a Nutcracker doll at her family’s Christmas party. Clara loves the doll very much, and she plays with it until she falls asleep under the Christmas tree. In her dreams, the Nutcracker becomes a prince, and a dream fantasy scene unravels. Clara goes to places in her dream that are so amazing that she wakes and wonders if it was really a dream.

William Starrett is the artistic director and choreographer of the Columbia City Ballet. His job incorporates costumes, sets, and production, as well as choreography. He takes the story and through the actions, makes it understandable to the audience. Starrett explains that music is the language, or voice, of the ballet.

The role of Clara is played by Alex Friedman, who practices with the company for this important part. She rehearses for four months to prepare for this one performance. Dancer Betsy Clark has danced with the company for eight years. She rehearses Monday through Saturday. She must be self-disciplined in her practice, classes, and physical fitness. She uses 11 to 12 pairs of shoes per performance of The Nutcracker.

As the technical director for the ballet, Barry Sparks is responsible for special effects which help the story move along. Pulleys, ropes, pipes, and weights are used in a sailing technique to help move the props. The moods of the scenes change with color, lights, fog, snow, and more!