Nutcracker at Paramount

Dec 082004
Authors: Katie Kelley

The clamor of trombones, flutes and violins from the orchestra echo off the pillared walls adding to the energized chatter of the audience anticipating the show. The stage, framed by orange, maroon, gold and silver velveteen drapes, lead the eye toward the vaulted ceilings of the Paramount Theater, making it impossible not to be swayed by the romanticized artistry that make up the better half of the walls.

A last stir of excitement hovers through the theater as the lights dim and the curtains rise. An anxious silence from the audience lingers until the moment the orchestra explodes in a synchronized melodic eruption and the dancers appear.

For over 44 years, the Colorado Ballet has performed "The Nutcracker" created in the late 1800s by French choreographer Marius Petipa with original music by Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

This year the Oppenheimerfund and Wells Fargo, sponsors of Colorado Ballet, are offering almost 30 opportunities to catch this stunning performance during the month of December.

On average the Colorado Ballet sees over 900,000 paid attendees for "The Nutcracker" show alone, according to Lindsay Wilson, director of education and outreach for the company.

"We are doing very well this season," Wilson said. "We are already at 70 percent of our goal."

While the thought of the ballet may scare some from attending, the Colorado Ballet adds new dimensions to this classical performance that can be enjoyed by all ages and individuals. Elaborate costumes and additional choreography allow for a well-rounded show whether attended by friends, families or couples.

"The show was really good," said Michael Paige, senior English major, who has seen the performance in the past. "It put me into the ambiance of the Christmas spirit. I would absolutely see it again."

The spectacular twists, twirls and bends by the dancers will amaze any onlooker as to the true depth of the human body as an art form. The dancers glisten in the spotlight while the sequins and beads on their costumes turn into crystals in the light glimmering across the stage.

Not only can one appreciate the luminous costumes but the show entertains all as an intended humor is included among the outlandish actions of several of the characters, including the characters: Mother Ginger and children.

According to Wilson, the dancers begin to prep only a few weeks prior to show.

"We have 30 dancers and 20 apprentices," Wilson said. "Who usually begin practicing two to three weeks from the actual opening night."

For those unaware of the original story of "The Nutcracker" it is about a young girl, Clara Stahlbaum, who receives a Nutcracker from her godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer. She is immediately enamored with the gift, which turns into a prince who takes her to a far-off fantasy land, The Land of Snow. Here, Clara is presented with dances from exotic cultures until finally she falls asleep and awakens to find her journey merely a dream.

"The Nutcracker" was originally performed Dec. 18, 1892, in Russia. Although it was not as popular then, its patronage has grown alongside with the increased talent of its dancers and the ever-expanding artistic quality of the show.

This is an excellent opportunity for families and friends alike to invite a new tradition into their holiday schedules. For Preston Randall, the Nutcracker is a great date idea.

"My girlfriend, Renee, and I are planning on going as part of our first Christmas together," said Randall, a junior construction management major. "It would be great to see the show live."

It is especially charming to visit the Paramount Theater during the holiday season as the shops and restaurants at the 16th Street Mall are bustling with carolers and street performers.

Ticket prices range from $34 to $85. Thirty-four dollars promises limited views of the stage while $85 offers floor seats next to the orchestra; however, if you buy the $34 tickets in advance, full-stage views are guaranteed. While prices range into the expensive category, it is well worth the money spent especially if $34 or $54 tickets are opted for instead of the pricier tickets.

Dates: Dec. 9, 10, 11,12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29.

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