Ballet Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic are bringing live music back to the Christmastime favorite “The Nutcracker.”
Ballet Idaho’s Artistic Director Peter Anastos is also the choreographer of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." He says the two organizations have worked together in the past, but a financial crunch last year meant Ballet Idaho had to use a CD for the performance.
“It’s not unusual and it’s not unique. Even the New York City Ballet during the musician’s strike had to go to CD’s and it’s happened in Seattle and Portland and other big places so we’re not alone," says Anastos. "But this year we reached a wonderful financial settlement with the Boise Philharmonic and they will be back in the pit and it’s a huge honor for us.”
Anastos says some fans were disappointed the music wasn’t live, including Ballet Idaho and the Philharmonic. He says live music makes a big difference to the dancers.
“It adds that element of the unknown, the element of surprise. They have to follow the conductor, it’s never the same twice," he says. "These are live musicians, they’re not robots and it’s not a CD. It’s extraordinarily for dancers to learn how to be musical. Music is never the same twice, nor should it be.”
A grant from the Morrison Center Endowment Foundation and a generous donor means the Philharmonic will be back in the orchestra pit for the show.
Anastos says they make improvements to the ballet every year to keep it fresh. This year, he’s added more special effects. But he says it’s a traditional production, keeping to "The Nutcracker’s" core story.
Anastos says "The Nutcracker" is unique in the history of ballet. “It’s the really the only ballet that celebrates domestic tranquility,” Anastos says. “It’s not melodramatic, it’s not dramatic, it’s just a warm, holiday-oriented, family story.”
He says people turn out for "The Nutcracker" year after year. It’s not just a holiday tradition, according to Anastos. For many it’s their first exposure to ballet. “The overwhelming majority of people saw "The Nutcracker" first before they decided they liked ballet. Second only to "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty",” says Anastos. “If you like the second act of 'The Nutcracker' then you probably like ballet and you should come and see some other ones as well.”
“We want people to go out into the night when they’re finished watching the ballet, feeling warm and beautiful and in the Christmas spirit," says Anastos. "That’s our desire.”
"The Nutcracker" starts Friday and runs through Sunday at the Morrison Center in Boise.
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio