‘Nutcracker’ Combines Talent From All Over
Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 18:12
Tchaikovsky’s timeless “Nutcracker Suite” scores come to life in ballet form this Friday and Saturday at Festival Concert Hall, put on by the FM Ballet. As one of the largest shows of the season for the company, this “Nutcracker” combines dancers, musicians, and a choir with many different abilities from many different backgrounds.
A 28-piece orchestra comprised of various area professionals and college students is headed by Christina Yi-Ping Chen-Beyers, the orchestra director of the University Orchestra in Fargo-Moorhead.
The Lake Agassiz Girls Choir backs the orchestra with vocals, while 17 dancers of the FM Ballet perform onstage. They are joined by 30 child dancers (the little mice) that hail from all over the area: Fargo-Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Kindred and Casselton.
“With everybody involved it makes it that much more magical and that much more of an experience for everybody,” artistic director/choreographer Matt Gasper said.
Housed in Gasper’s School of Dance in downtown Fargo, the FM Ballet puts on a few productions each year. “Alice in Wonderland” will pop up in spring 2014 as the annual children’s ballet. Revenue from this “Nutcracker” will set up funding for this spring show, which can be a fickle business sometimes.
“Every time we put on a production there’s always a risk that people won’t come and see it,” Gasper said. “If they don’t come and see it, then we’re done and our season’s over, so that’s the extremeness of that.”
This is the second annual “Nutcracker” for Gaspers with the FM Ballet. Building an audience base is vital for the company, and with three performances of “The Nutcracker” this Friday and Saturday, Gasper hopes they can win some fans going into the spring.
The sheer size of this production is admirable from the get-go, as is the diversity of many of those involved. Gabriela Baierle-Atwood, playing the main part of Clara, is not only a professional dancer but an NDSU-alum architect. Other company and crew members range from a lawyer to a Concordia resident hall director to another architect.
Gasper himself also has more than one role in reality, as he takes up the positions of nearly every conceivable design aspect of this show, from choreography to lighting.
“Once we hit the theater, I become the stage manager, lighting director, set designer and a lot of stuff,” he said. “I am a man of many hats.”
With a two-day run and just three opportunities to catch this show, community members have a nice little outing on their hands before the calendar comes to Christmas. A lot of effort in a short amount of time (under 60 hours of rehearsals) went into this show, which is a promising production to cap off 2013 in area theatre.
“With fabulous volunteers and fabulous staff, we can pull this off,” Gasper said, “but we can’t pull it off without community support.”
“The Nutcracker” is at 7 p.m. on Dec. 20 and 21 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 21 in Festival Concert Hall. Regular priced tickets are $25. Discounted student tickets are available at the box office.