This year's Nutcracker ballet, which runs Dec. 13-15 in the Richland High School auditorium, will be a milestone for the Richland-based Mid-Columbia Ballet company.
"This is the first time since Debra and I took over the company 25 years ago that we have had the symphony perform the music live for Nutcracker," said Joel Rogo.
The Mid-Columbia Symphony, under the direction of maestro Nicholas Wallin, will provide the music, which was written by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Dec. 18, 1892.
That original production was not considered a success, though the music has survived the ages and is performed each year during the Christmas holidays.
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The story features such memorable characters as Clara, Herr Drosselmeier, the Rat King, the Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.
Besides all the graceful movements of the ballerinas, it is perhaps the music that evokes the spirit of the season with such dance numbers as Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Waltz for the Flowers.
The role of Clara will be double cast this year, with Angela Streetman and Rachel Geller sharing the role.
The Nutcracker revolves around the young Clara, who falls asleep on Christmas Eve and dreams of going on an adventure to a magical land with her Nutcracker doll.
Carli Samuelson and James Moore, principal ballet dancers with the Pacific Northwest Ballet company in Seattle, will dance the featured roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.
Ballet artistic director Debra Rogo is looking forward to having Tchaikovsky's score performed live this year.
"Mid-Columbia Ballet dancers are very excited to have the symphony playing for this Nutcracker," she said. "I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they really hear how beautiful the music sounds, and they are fortunate to experience the joy of dancing to live music."
She also is looking forward to working with the symphony again after their first collaboration a few years ago on Carl Orff's musical composition Carmina Burana.
"Nick Wallin is fabulous," Rogo said. "We are both looking forward to this endeavor."
The Rogos also say there will be a surprise added to this year's performance, but remain mum on the details, other than to say the audience will see it during the party scene at the beginning of the ballet.
They did say the new magic trick was created by Tri-City volunteer Dan Porter, who has been building sets and props for the Mid-Columbia Ballet for more than 20 years, and Greg Elder of Seattle, who designed the Nutcracker set, as well as costumes for past productions.
"It's big and pretty impressive," Joel Rogo said.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Dec. 13-14 and 2 p.m. Dec. 14-15.
Advance ticket purchase is recommended. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $18 for students and seniors and $13 for ages 13 and younger and are available at www.midcolumbiaballet.org or by calling 946-5417.
Those with season tickets to the symphony can trade a symphony concert voucher in for a ballet ticket at the Mid-Columbia Ballet office on Aaron Drive in Richland. Symphony patrons can call 943-6602 for more information.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com; Twitter: @dorioneal