The IU Opera & Ballet Theatre will perform Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3-5 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6.
In this show, toys come to life and battle giant mice. Clara and Herr Drosselmeyer journey to magical lands populated by characters such as the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Michael Vernon, the chair of the ballet department, is the choreographer of the production.
This is the ninth year his version of “The Nutcracker” will be staged at IU.
Vernon said the ballet is his interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s music both choreographically and dramatically.
Although he has been involved with many productions of “The Nutcracker” in various places since the 1980s, Vernon said the different casts each year at IU make the traditional ballet interesting. It allows each production to be just a little bit different from year to year.
“It’s nice to see dancers who started in the corps de ballet, or even less than that, grow and work their way into more important parts,” Vernon said. “I think that’s what I enjoy the most.”
“The Nutcracker” is performed every year at IU, but Vernon said there is always room for changes. For example, he said, he sometimes changes the choreography based on the specific dancer’s skills and attributes.
“It’s like a house — I’m always refinishing,” Vernon said. “I’m always adding little touches and changing little moments that are awkward or that I didn’t like.”
Vernon said he thinks the classic ballet is popular because it is a seasonal ballet about a child.
The ballet can be viewed for its literal story line, but it can also be seen as allegorical, he said.
“Basically, it’s about a young girl’s journey and her dreams — her dreams and aspirations to become a beautiful woman,” Vernon said.
Vernon said he is proud of the production and the dancers.
It is hard to tell they are students, and it looks like a professional ballet company, he said.
Senior Alison Perhach is a featured dancer in the production in one of the three casts. One of her parts is the Sugar Plum Fairy, a role she also performed last year.
“It’s amazing to be trusted with such a serious role,” Perhach said.
Although she has danced the role before, Perhach said it is different this year because she has a new perspective that has allowed her to refine her performance.
Perhach said getting to work with different partners keeps her performance fresh.
Working together on the ballet strengthens friendships, she said.
“‘Nutcracker’ is a time when we all come together,” Perhach said.
Junior Imani Sailers performs many different roles in the ballet, including a Spanish dancer, Arabian dancer and a snow princess.
Sailers said her favorite part is the Arabian dance, which is different from the classical style of the other parts.
“It’s more fun and sensual,” Sailers said.
She said she enjoys the music even though it is constantly stuck in her head because she can hear the different cultures and countries represented.
“The Nutcracker” is a ballet anyone can relate to, Sailers said.
“Even if you don’t know the story, you understand through the choreography, the music and the sets,” Sailers said.
Ticket prices range from $20 to $30. They are available on the Jacobs School of Music’s website or at the Musical Art’s Center box office.