The Nutcracker: 50 years of magic

Beauchamp Gallery

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul,” said the legendary Martha Graham. To admirers of dancers – masters of corporal movement, flying virtuosos – there is a purifying nature to their performance. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens remains one of our most venerable institutions in classical and modern dance. Their signature production of the universally appealing and magical classic, The Nutcracker – recognized as one of the world’s finest – is staged every holiday season.

The production of The Nutcracker has been enhanced over the decades by lavish stage effects, and enriched by showcasing the company’s finest dancers. The story is as immutable as the return of winter: the amazing journey of little Clara to the Land of Snow and the Kingdom of Sweets. A beautiful nutcracker offered to her on Christmas is pretext for the magical adventure that follows, combining fantastic animals and legendary characters.

Not only do Clara, Dr. Drosselmeyer, and the Sugar Plum Fairies never age, but the production itself has successfully withstood the test of time, continually breathing new life into this classic. The Nutcracker statistics are impressive: more than two million spectators since 1964; nearly 10,000 dancers have graced the stage; and the show holds the record for the longest running performance in Canada.

In 1964, Fernand Nault (1920-2006) created the first choreography to the famous tale by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann. Since then, disciplined teams of dancers, producers, coaches, costume designers, and musicians have succeeded in delighting generations of children. To highlight this 50th anniversary year, Les Grands Ballets is hosting all previous production participants at a grand reunion on December 12.

The continued success of Les Grands Ballets owes much to Fernand Nault, whom we associate directly with The Nutcracker. A sensitive artist with an expansive mind, he had the vision to successfully integrate the company’s repertoire of classical and modern works (notably Carmina Burana and Tommy), creating a program diversity that would enable the company to spread its wings and attract a wider audience. The 2013 edition of The Nutcracker by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens runs from December 12 to 30 at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts, and from December 5 to 8 at the Grand Théâtre de Québec.


By: Jean-François Bélisle


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