On Stage

The Nutcracker

A ballet with legs

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When it comes to the intricacies of The Nutcracker, Northwest Ballet Theater’s John Bishop is the man to go to with questions. As the artistic director, choreographer and wrangler of Sugar Plum Fairies since the company’s first performance nearly 20 years ago, Bishop is a man with a plan—and a vision.

Cascadia Weekly: What’s exciting about this year’s production?

John Bishop: A magical growing Christmas tree, giant catapulting mousetrap, an exploding cannon, falling snowflakes and sleigh-riding on a billowing cloud—all set against beautiful scenic backdrops and scrims.

Exciting enough? Well, there is a lot more actually. This year we have added new ballroom-style choreography in Act I thanks to Rachel Hutchins, an international competitive ballroom choreographer, and dramatic changes to the battle scene thanks to contemporary choreographer Megan Nelson. Keeping in tradition with the traditional Petipa choreography for the balletic scenes, I have given more athletic choreography to many of the characters—from young Clara to the Sugar Plum Fairy (Hailey Forsberg) and Cavalier (Gilford Fred).

CW: When did Northwest Ballet Theater start offering the holiday ballet to the public, and what’s your favorite thing about sharing it with audiences in Whatcom and Skagit counties?

JB: From a very conservative first production in 1999, there is one thing that really never has changed, and that is the joy and excitement it creates in the faces of our audiences. From the little pink mice who enter the stage from a large grandfather clock to the soloists and principals who pour out every ounce of their soul to give a totally professional look to each scene, people who come out every year to see us know they are in for a treat.

CW: You’re doing a Christmas Eve show at the Mount Baker Theatre. Is that a first?

JB: This is the second straight year we have performed on Christmas Eve. It turns out both the dancers and our audiences enjoyed it very much. There seems to be an added magic to that particular performance.

CW: Why should people make a viewing of The Nutcracker part of their seasonal celebrations?

JB: There is no real logic of why people make it a part of their holiday celebrations. However, for more than 150 years this favorite ballet of all time has never seem to have gotten old or outdated.

The story, although enchanting and especially appealing to young children, seems to attract the older generation as well, as they also grew up with it when they were children. I must say that bringing a traditional rendition of the ballet has been an honor and joy for one who has both danced in, and/or choreographed and staged it for 50 years. I guess that would make this year my Nutcracker “Diamond Anniversary.”

Anniversary
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Events
Today
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Little Women, the Musical

7:00pm|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Anne of Green Gables

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Hot Cider & Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

COffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Hidden Narrative Tour

3:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Drayton Harbor Shell-ebration

4:00pm|H Street Plaza

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Jingle Belles

4:00pm|La Conner

Ukulele Concert

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Holiday Movie Night

6:00pm|Bellingham High School

Holiday Night Market

6:00pm|Commercial Street

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Holiday Ball

7:00pm|Majestic

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Community Orchestra Winter Concert

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Ghosts and Brawling

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Village Books
Tomorrow
Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Little Women, the Musical

7:00pm|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Anne of Green Gables

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Hot Cider & Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Ghosts and Brawling

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Make It and Take It

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center

Coast Salish Winter Festival

10:00am|Lummi Gateway Center

Jingle Bell Dash

10:00am|Seafarers Memorial Park

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Holiday Tea

10:00am|South Whatcom Library

Chainsaw Sculpting Open Studio

10:00am|Tomas Vrba Studio

Baker Beacon Rally

11:00am|Heather Meadow

Fairhaven Winterfest

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Peter James Holiday Gallery Sale and Reception

1:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Hansel and Gretel

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Youth Symphony Holiday Concert

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Eat Your Words Cookbook Club

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Holiday Wines from Spain

2:00pm|Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Mozzarella Class

3:00pm|Appel Farms

Winter Dance Celebration

3:00pm|Brodniak Hall

Noel Trio

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Not So Silent Night

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Star Mountain Journey

7:00pm|Blaine Performing Arts Center

Kulshan Chorus Winter Concert

7:30pm|Bellingham High School

Skagit Symphony Holiday Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Wizard People, Dear Bellingham

8:00pm|Alternative Library

Teen Library Lock-In

8:00pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas Milonga Tango Experience

9:00pm|Presence Studio

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Sunday
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Winter's Return Concert

2:00pm|Skagit Valley Unitarian Fellowship

Nonfiction and Memoir Writing Group

3:00pm|Village Books

Nutcracker Holiday

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

Holiday Chorus

3:00pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Whatcom Chorale's Messiah

3:30pm|Church of the Assumption

Backgammon Session

5:30pm|Parkway Village

Way North Comedy Showcase

7:00pm|Farmstrong Brewing Co.

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