by Vicki Crain
Without a Sugar Plum in sight, on Sunday, December 2nd, the Moscow Ballet brings the Great Russian Nutcracker to Rosemont’s Akoo Theatre. The touring company hit North America for a 73-city marathon of performances crossing the U.S. and Canada earlier this month. This version of the Nutcracker story differs from the one traditionally seen in the Midwest. The iconic Tchaikovsky score remains, but instead of traveling to the Land of Sweets in Act II, the lead character, Masha, is escorted by Father Christmas and the Snow Maiden to the Land of Peace and Harmony where Masha turns into the Dove of Peace and is honored by emissaries from around the world.
Karyna Shatkovskaya, 28, will be dancing the lead role of Masha (aka. Clara/Maria). She has won numerous awards including the Second International Ballet Competition (IBC), Kharkov Ballet Competition- at the age of 9 – and the Third International Children and Youth Classical Dance Competition. She’s been dancing with the Moscow Ballet since 2011. 4dancers spoke with Shatkovskaya briefly over the phone, via soloist/Audition Director Svetlana, who served as interpreter. Both dancers admit the touring schedule is difficult, frequently leaving immediately post-performance and sometimes taking up to nine hours to get to the next venue.
Even though Shatkovskaya has been performing the lead role in The Nutcracker for years (she debuted as Maria in the Odessa National Opera and Ballet in 2002), she still enjoys it simply because she loves dancing. After warming up in an hour-long class with the company, she likes to get some alone time to calm down and prepare emotionally. No pictures before the show is her only superstition. Joining her on stage will be local kids dancing the parts of Party children, mice, snowflakes, angels and butterflies. Interesting things to look for in this production are three-dimensional, hand-painted backdrops and large handcrafted puppets designed by Russian puppet master Valentin Federov.
For ticket information, visit www.nutcracker.com
BIO: Vicki Crain is the voice behind Rogue Ballerina, an excellent blog that covers the Chicago-area dance scene. Check out her site for interviews, previews, reviews and more, and follow her on Twitter at @rogueballerina