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Published November 29 2010

‘The Nutcracker’ dances to life on stage

The Moscow Ballet packed the Festival Concert Hall at North Dakota State University Sunday afternoon for their performance of the “Great Russian Nutcracker.”

“It sold out on Friday,” said Linda Coates, executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, which handled ticketing for the performance.

The production’s wardrobe painted the stage with a rainbow of color as dancers glided and tip-toed across the stage with strength and grace.

“Live performances are good no matter what, but this should be spectacular,” B.J. Whitten of Fargo said before the show. “It’s great to get into the Christmas spirit.”

“The Nutcracker,” with music by Tchaikovsky, is a holiday staple of the fine arts.

“I think they’re amazing, how they do the jumps like that,” 12-year-old Mayim Stith said during intermission.

Her 9-year-old brother Joram said he was enjoying the show. His favorite part was “probably the sugarplum fairies.”

His mother, Toni, asked him if he liked the part of the dance involving the dancing mice.

“No,” Joram said. “Too long.”

Lori Wetch was at the performance with her daughter, Mackenzie, and said the 4-year-old was “mesmerized by it.”

Mom was impressed, too.

“I thought it was fantastic,” she said.

While those in attendance raved about the performance, getting it to the stage came with some difficulty.

They were leaving “frigid Wisconsin” on their way to Fargo when mechanical problems arose with the tech bus, said Dan Talmi, associate producer for the Moscow Ballet. The cast ended up getting to the performance hall about two hours later than planned.

The show, of course, went on.

Kathy Gasper of the Gasper School of Dance and Performing Arts rated the Moscow Ballet company at a 9.5 on a scale of 10 and spoke of the professionalism of the company. The Gasper School is home to the Fargo-Moorhead Ballet company, and members of the school and the company took part in the Fargo performance.

Rachel Wells, a 19-year-old NDSU student, was one of those who helped supplement the company’s cast.

“They’re world class,” she said. “They’re considered to be one of the top five companies in the world.”

Asked what the experience was like, Wells said, “There really aren’t words. I’m sorry.”

The performance brought a little touch of home to Russian natives Leonid and Yelena Vilen­ski. They live in Fargo and work for Sanford Health.

It was a “nice reminder of the homeland – the culture, the history,” Leonid Vilenski said.

It was also special for Mavis LaChance. She attended the performance with her friend, Norma Frohberg, who took her to the ballet as a Christmas gift.

“That was a wonderful gift,” LaChance said.” “One of the best I’ve ever had.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734