Ballet Des Moines Updates ‘The Nutcracker’

Betta splendens, a freshwater fish, is just one of the new characters introduced in Ballet Des Moines’ refreshed second act of “The Nutcracker,” which will have showtimes stretching two weekends on Dec. 10-12 and Dec. 17-18. Photo: Jami Milne, Ballet Des Moines

If you haven’t seen “The Nutcracker” in a whileand even if you havethis is the year to go. Ballet Des Moines is updating the beloved holiday show to be more inclusive and thoughtful while retaining the story’s classic elements and iconic Tchaikovsky score.

As part of the update, the company will shift the second act of the show to replace “Chinese, Arabian, and Russian stereotypes with scenes and characters that imaginatively bring the classic music to life in breathtaking new ways,” organizers say. The new characters will come to life through the help of well-known local fashion designer Sarah Dornink, who has joined Ballet Des Moines as wardrobe director.

“Ballet has more to offer than imitation and re-enactment. We are inspired to use our art to bring a wide range of relevant stories to life,” Tom Mattingly, Ballet Des Moines’ new artistic director, said in a news release. “We hope everyone can find something personal to connect to in our performances, whether it’s the bravado of a young stag, the sparkling beauty of a Dew Drop Fairy, or the wonder of a child’s imagination.”

In addition to shows Dec. 10-12 at Hoyt Sherman Place, there will be a second weekend of showtimes on Dec. 17-18 at the Staplin Performing Arts Center in West Des Moines. Audiences can expect to see a performance led by 10 professional dancers alongside hundreds of students from 34 Central Iowa dance studios. See the full “Nutcracker” schedule online.

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