Mohnani was making no attempt to tamp down expectations for his company’s popular touring production of The Nutcracker, which begins its fourth annual march across Middle Tennessee on Friday, Nov. 22. He knows his production is eye-popping in its own way.
“Our Nutcracker focuses on the beauty of the dance,” he says. “We put our time, energy and resources on the choreography. That’s what ballet is all about.”
In recent years, the prevailing national trend in producing The Nutcracker has been to localize it. Directors have taken Tchaikovsky’s and Petipa’s 1892 Russian ballet and set it in various turn-of-the-20th-century American cities. There have been versions of the ballet set in such locations as Manhattan and San Francisco. Nashville Ballet’s production is set in 1897 Nashville and uses the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition as a backdrop.
Mohnani ignores this popular trend and sets his Nutcracker in its traditional locale of 19th-century St. Petersburg. Nevertheless, Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s Nutcracker does include one major alternation: the production makes use of a narrator.
“The mission of Dance Theatre of Tennessee is to bring ballet to as many people as possible,” says Mohnani. “Having a narrator tell the story in a straightforward way helps make ballet more accessible to people who have perhaps never gone to a dance production before.”
Although Dance Theatre of Tennessee’s Nutcracker prizes the beauty of classical dance above all else, it does include its fair share of visual splendor. There’s a Christmas tree that sprouts like a bean stalk and a mirror that boasts some amazing magical properties.
“Kids will be spellbound by our Nutcracker,” Mohnani says.
This season, Dance Theatre of Tennessee is bringing its Nutcracker to five cities in four Middle Tennessee counties. Young dancers from these communities are getting the chance to perform in the production, and local celebrities will be making guest appearances as Mother Ginger. Dance Theatre of Tennessee is also partnering with local canine agencies to present an adoptable dog onstage during the ballet’s opening act, making this production seem all the more adorable.
Here’s the full touring schedule:
November 22, Friday, 7:00pm, November 23, Saturday, 7:00pm
November 29, Friday, 7:00pm, November 30, Saturday, 2:00pm and 7:00pm,
December 7, Saturday, 2:00pm, December 7, Saturday, 7:00pm
December 14, Saturday, 7:00pm, December 15, Sunday, 2:00pm
December 21, Saturday, 2:00pm
IF YOU GO
Dance Theatre of Tennessee presents the Nutcracker at various venues during the holiday season. Tickets are $25 adults and $20 children and are available by clicking here. For more information, call (615) 391-5500.