There is no better way to get into the spirit of the holidays than by attending a performance of “The Nutcracker.”

This weekend, the iconic ballet will return to the Pikes Peak Center in a collaboration between .the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Ballet and the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale.

The classical ballet is a blend of glorious music, gorgeous costumes and delightful staging aimed at all ages . Familiar characters include Clara, whose imagination is piqued by the gift of a handcrafted, wooden Nutcracker; the evil Mouse King; the elegant Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier; and the handsome prince who is eventually transformed from the simple Nutcracker.

Many artists factor into the opulent production. Forty-three dancers from OKC Ballet comprise four different casts for the five performances in Colorado Springs. They arrived last weekend to begin rehearsals and acclimate to the altitude. Accompanying them was a semi-trailer full of costumes, marvelous sets and props to bring the story to life.

“They love the opportunity to travel to Colorado Springs and perform for the audience there,” said Whitney Cross, director of development and communications for OKC Ballet. “They love the people, scenery, and they have a lot of fun.”

Children are an integral part of the ballet. The award-winning Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale sings during the snow scene at the end of Act I. Auditions held in the fall made way for 52 local children to perform 68 roles in the production. An added touch is a collaboration with Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs that provides walk-on roles for a few patients.

Newly named OKC Ballet Artistic Director Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye has rechoreographed the ballet this year, and added new characters including the Snow Queen and King and a dancer named Dewdrop.

“I will insert a fresh breath into this cherished production while holding true to the classic retelling and narrative,” Jolicouer-Nye said. “It is my goal to offer families … a thrilling, timeless mix of classical choreography, the most beautiful music played by the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and a heartwarming story.” The new production, he added, “will be moving away from the cultural stereotypes that typically exist in Act 2.”

“This extravagant ballet has remained the freshest part of the holiday season (while) triggering memories of Christmas past,” said Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. “The amazing ballet choreography and storyline …whisks us away into adventure and a fantasy journey of a child’s imagination.”

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