Performing “The Nutcracker” ballet annually isn’t simply a dance company’s means of filling its performance schedule with a feel-good holiday production that’s a shoo-in to sell out. It actually serves an important purpose for both the dancers and the audience, says Alexander Tressor, International Ballet teacher and former professional dance instructor at the prestigious Steps on Broadway studio in New York City.
“For most companies and schools throughout the United States, ‘Nutcracker’ is generally the only ballet which is performed yearly,” Tressor says. “This gives dancers a chance to progress to bigger and more challenging roles and also allows audiences to watch the progression of their favorite dancers. ‘Nutcracker’ also is the way many children first become interested in dance, as it is often the first ballet they see.”
For the past 12 years, International Ballet has performed its classic production of “The Nutcracker” on the Peace Center Concert Hall stage, including many years with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in the pit.
“International Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ plays an important role in our community by giving children and adults alike a chance to see a classic winter fairy tale, performed at a very high level,” Tressor says.
Tressor will debut as a performer with International Ballet as Herr Drosselmeyer, the mysterious and magical godfather of young Clara. Tressor’s stepfather and teacher, Andrei Kramarevsky, famously danced the Drosselmeyer role in New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker” for many years.
A Russian immigrant with a long career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher in New York City and around the world, Tressor’s many connections in the dance world allowed International Ballet to feature two prominent guest dancers in this year’s production. Veronika Part, the former soloist of Mariinsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia, and current principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre in New York City, will dance the main role of Clara. Adrián Masvidal, former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Cuba, will dance the lead role of the Nutcracker Prince.
“Living and working in New York City for 41 years prior to coming to Greenville provided a unique opportunity to get to know many outstanding ballet dancers from all over the world,” Tressor says. “By teaching professional dancers at Steps on Broadway, I was able to work closely with many, including Veronika Part. Veronika has danced on some of the biggest stages with some of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world and will bring her artistry and grace to our production. To miss the opportunity to see her dance is the equivalent of missing an aurora borealis.”
Tressor says the ballet world is a small one and having connections with a variety of schools and companies is important.
“Through my collaboration with Miguel Campaneria, who directs Campaneria Ballet School in Cary, N.C., we were connected with Adrián Masvidal,” Tressor says. “Dancers from the Cuban school are well-known for their turning and leaping abilities, which will add extra zest to this year’s show.”
“The Nutcracker” also features more than 70 local dancers and the International Ballet Snowflake Choir, which will sing in the iconic snow scene at the end of the first act.
Who: International Ballet
When: Dec. 10, 8 p.m. or Dec. 11, 3 p.m.
Where: Peace Center Concert Hall, 300 S. Main St.
Info: Visit peacecenter.org or call 467-3000.