Based on a novel by 19th-century romantic fabulist E.T.A. Hoffman, The Nutcracker weaves a magical tale of holiday adventure around one of the most recognizable scores in the ballet repertoire. With Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra, Miami City Ballet’s principal dancers, performing the lead roles, the story begins when young Clara receives a nutcracker from her godfather, a wizardly toymaker named Drosselmeyer. Sneaking downstairs to see the toy after everyone else has gone to bed, she suddenly finds herself caught in the middle of a pitched battle between the toys and an army of mice. After saving the nutcracker with a well-thrown shoe to the Mouse King’s head, Clara and her now-living prince venture into the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets to celebrate.
Throughout their adventures, Tchaikovsky’s dazzling inventiveness propels the dances of nimble flowers and regal fairy queens. The “Waltz of the Snowflakes” floats weightlessly above the angelic voices of a youth choir, whereas the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” tiptoes to the haunting, music-box chimes of a celesta. A medley of exotic national dances—including a Spanish bolero and Russian Trepak—add to the phantasmagoric celebration before the whole dream ends, as all dreams must.
After training with companies including the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Ballet Russe School, Don Cantwell returned to Charleston with a dream: to share the beauty of ballet with the local community. Decades later, he and Executive Artistic Director Patricia Cantwell continue to do just that at Charleston Ballet Center for Dance and Coastal Ballet USA, training future generations of dancers and staging dazzling productions featuring guest artists and their own students. They are partnered by award-winning Choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr, whose innovative work has brought new life to classics including Alice in Wonderland, The Rite of Spring, and The Firebird. Jill became the recipient of the Individual Artist award for artistic excellence at The 2008 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards. In 2010, she was selected as a SC Arts Commission 2010 Dance Choreography Fellow and also appointed to the Dance Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C.