Editor’s note: Indianapolis Ballet was not able to perform Nutcracker Sweets live and in person as planned this year at the Toby, but ticket holders can gain complimentary digital access to the digital performance here starting Saturday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m., when IB goes live from the Toby. You can access the performance on demand through the holidays.
What a different world this is … not just imagined in a dream … but pulled out of the core of dancers who made a dress rehearsal magical. It’s a familiar, yet very different rendition of Indianapolis Ballet’s signature Nutcracker when audiences flocked to Old National Centre and then, circulating inside the grand lobby among ballet-related activities, made their way into the majestic Murat Theatre.
A newly configured hour-long ballet, set to stream in live performances from The Toby at Newfields, enfolds the viewer from the instant the curtain rises to reveal Clara, dreamlike, connecting us into her aftermath of the real party scene, which is followed by the first layer of her dreams, before we go with her into a world conjured by creators whose particular gifts were to retain layers of wonderment in reaction to real physical events.
At curtain rise of what normally is IB’s act two, the cold of night takes Clara into a wintery place. Even in the warmth of our own home in this midweek’s temperature surge, I felt a chill, and then when Clara and Herr Drosselmeyer conveyed me into a confection-filled brightness, my scarf was loosened and I relaxed into world-wide tastes in full motion.
Dancing full-out even in rehearsal is a gift the company brought to this reviewer. It’s common knowledge that dancers get fulsome energy from bodies in seats — it’s the Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel syndrome. Whatever it is we do, performing in the company of applause, spontaneous ‘bravas/bravos’ and in the case of sports waving pendants and bursts of rising up to shout, the performance ante is up with people in the presence of the event.
I dwell on this because it has relevance. When the Arts Council of Indianapolis presented “Start With Art’ as a virtual experience, we at home were invited to post running comments. It felt un-lonely. But here we are in our solo households conveyed into Clara’s solitary dream and sorting out what it all means to be in the moment of a child’s unfolding (and enfolding) in pursuit of making sense of an experience in a different kind of time.
That we are not allowed now into the opening party scene resonates. Oh, how very pertinent to this moment to be without the buzz of the coming into the familiar Amos-Butler House on Indianapolis’ near Eastside; to be without the gathering and the children playing and everyone dancing in the parlor. Suddenly, the shades of black/white/grays/blues of Winter close in as Clara looks around — where am I? Oh, I am where the magic happens. And for Clara, it’s OK.
And so it is for me. Tchaikovsky would embrace this new relevancy.
The dancers take turns in roles throughout the live-performances from The Toby conveyed in real time to our computers. That’s the constant in ballet companies, to build each dancer’s repertoire with a chance to take a lead role. Watching, I recalled the litany of roles by dancers still with the company, and by those who have moved on. Each has brought a personal dimension, and that was part of my Dec. 10 experience as I watched the newest company members taking ownership. Check the schedule to learn who is dancing what, when.
Schaefer, Mary Ann
Indianapolis School of Ballet Student Dancers:
Quinn Potter (Clara week 1)
Juliet Potts (Clara week 2)