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Crack open a little Christmas magic at 'The Nutcracker'

Dianna Wray

By Dianna Wray
Dec. 21, 2011 at 6:21 a.m.

Charles-Louis Yoshiyama dances the role of the Nutcracker Prince in the Houston Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker."

There are only a few things better than eggnog, and "The Nutcracker" is one of them.

For starters, you won't be drinking an entire meal's worth of calories in one gulp if you're watching the perennial Christmas favorite. For another, who doesn't love some dancing toy soldiers and mice?

Tchaikovsky's ballet tells the tale of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. It starts off on Christmas Eve - my favorite part of the ballet. The family is gathering around a gargantuan Christmas tree, covered in glittering decorations and surrounded by toys. Lots of stuff happens, but the main story is about the girl Clara being presented with a Nutcracker.

Once Clara has gone to sleep that night, she embarks on a magical journey. The Nutcracker battles the Mouse King, and takes her to his Kingdom where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. To this day, I'm still not entirely sure what a Sugar Plum Fairy is, but that part of the ballet always makes me cry, just a little bit. You see, the nice thing about "The Nutcracker," even if you've seen it a million times, is that there's always a certain sparkly quality to it.

For just a little while, as Clara and her brother, Fritz, giddily open their presents, we can remember what it was like to be that age. As the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer makes his life-sized dolls come to life to dance for the crowd, that mysterious half-forgotten world of enchantment comes alive again.

As the wonderful world of dreams and make believe comes alive before our eyes onstage, it starts to seem very likely that said enchanted world still does exist, and might be within reach if we could only stretch our fingers out quick enough and far enough to grasp hold of it. We're seeing the world, for that little span of time those ballerinas are on the stage - through the eyes of a child.

Christmas is the time when we have the chance to do that once more, or at least to try. So go see "The Nutcracker."



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