The Nutcracker in Mexico City
By Oswaldo Mejía
For the 32nd year the National Dance Company will present The Nutcracker in Mexico City. This year, the 80 dancers will offer a performance characterized by artistic and technical innovations and will be accompanied by the orchestra of Bellas Artes, under the baton of director Tadeusz Wojciechowski.
The Nutcracker was written in German in 1816 by E. T. A. Hoffmann and adapted into French by Alexandre Dumas. In 1891, Marius Petipa proposed the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky adapt the story as a ballet. With a script by Petipa and choreography by Lev Ivanov, The Nutcacker premiered on December 17, 1892, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.
In Mexico, the ballet was first performed at the Auditorio Nacional in 1969, in a staging by the Classic Ballet of Mexico choreographed by Jorge Cano. In 1980, the INBA’s National Dance Company premiered a version by Nina Novak, based on Lev Ivanov’s original at the Palacio de Bellas Artes on December 2. Since 2001 the ballet has been performed at the Auditorio Nacional, as it will be this year.
In an interview the choreographer, Nina Novak, said, “This year the performance presents a technical and artistic evolution. We demand the maximum of our dancers because suddenly we found that the movements of this ballet were easy for them, so we decided to make some modifications to make it possible to observe the virtuosity of the performers on stage. As for the artistic aspect, it is a bit more complex because of the nature of the characters. It is not the same for a classical dancer to represent the Sugar Plum Fairy as to play Juliet or Carmen. To bring all those fanciful and unrealistic characters to life represents a worthwhile effort on the part of the members of the company. It’s a challenge to convince the audience—mainly children—that the fantasy is real, so we appeal to emotions and feelings. This year we are accompanied by an orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s work, and that imparts a special character to the performance. If the dancers listen and follow the emotional tone of the director, they will never make a mistake and will achieve their mission. The inspiration and the most eloquent element to maintain an artistic tone in The Nutcracker is music.”
The ballet is divided into two acts. The first act tells the story of a girl named Clara, who receives a nutcracker from her godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, on Christmas Eve. The gift provokes the envy of her brother, Fritz. They go to sleep and Clara dreams that she becomes small, and she finds herself in a battle between mice and a nutcracker, whom she saves. He comes to life as a handsome prince and as a sign of gratitude he invites her to travel through the snow forest.
During the second act, the Prince escorts Clara to the Land of Sweets, where they are welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy. When the Prince describes their daring battle with the mice, she rewards them with a celebration of dances. Different nationalities are represented by the dances of the sweets: chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, tea from China, and so on.
Clara is played by Eliza Ramos, prima ballerina, who in an interview shared her excitement about playing the character. “To play a younger girl, I tried to remember back to my childhood in order to convey what I felt at Christmas, so that I could carry out my character. I try to improve the technique, but I do not neglect the artistic part. This is the most important because the expression of emotions is what moves and excites the public.”
“The Nutcracker is a beautiful Christmas story, and this show includes many dancers, live music, majestic and colorful costumes and fantastical scenery. You don’t need to be an expert to understand the story. In that sense it is a very accessible story for viewers,” said Ramos, who graduated from INBA’s National School of Classical and Contemporary Dance.
Shows are scheduled on Friday 21, 4:30 and 7:30pm; Saturday 22, 7:30pm; and Sunday 23, 4:30 and 7:30pm. Tickets are on sale at the venue box office and Ticketmaster. The ticket prices are as follows: preferred, 500; luneta, 400; balcony, 250; and stage 1, 180 pesos.