One of my very favourite holiday traditions is and will always be The Nutcracker. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is a cultural icon and I go out of my way to attend as many performances as I can! You can see my Nutcracker post from 2015 here! The familiarity of it is part of why I love it so much, it feels like coming home at Christmas. You get to experience a wonderful score, fantastic choreography, and the chance to see younger dancers in more prominent roles! So, how was this year?
We were able to get tickets for opening night! I love the energy of opening night; no one is exhausted or bored or upset and there is an extra excitement in the air. The Centennial Concert Hall is not my favourite theatre in the world, it’s fairly typical 1970s architecture and not overly elaborate. However, they do add small touches that dress it up- red is so striking!
There was also a choir singing Christmas carols on the piano mezzanine! They were lovely to listen to, and I love that the RWB incorporates the community into their performances and events. They also feature different community members in the party scene of each performance of The Nutcracker and who were we lucky enough to see? Fred Penner. If you don’t know who Fred Penner is, you might have missed out on the best childhood ever. (“The Cat Came Back”, anyone??) Anyways, in addition to actually seeing him on stage, I saw him wandering throughout the lobby in full costume and top hat. It really made the evening.
There was not a dancer/artist talk before the show. I was a little disappointed until I saw that there was a selfie booth, being run by my friend who works for the company! It was a nice touch, and I think that it is a fantastic momento for people to keep for later. Depending on the show you went to, different characters from the show were available for selfies! I’ve got to say, the more successful businesses/organisations are integrating social media into your experience.
The show is as distinctly “Winnipeg” as it ever is! Kids playing hockey on the street, polar bears, Hudson Bay Company blankets, Mounties! It featured the adorable teeny polar bears that I love, and the little angels that help mix up the cake. Plus, they now have reindeer!! Thiago Dos Santos stole the show as Drosselmeyer- he is certainly my favourite dancer in the company. He has a fantastic way of nailing character roles without being over the top and distracting.
The Nutcracker is always a guaranteed two hours where I can completely escape, the smile never leaves my face, and I can enjoy the nuances of familiar choreography. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet takes such good care of us, and we are lucky to have them here!
What is your favourite cultural event?