The story is set in Vienna in the middle of the nineteenth century. Herr Silberhaus and his wife, along with their children, Clara and Fritz, celebrate the holiday festivities with friends and family. During this Christmas Eve night, the guests and their children rejoice in the magical Christmas atmosphere that Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather, brings to the Silberhaus home. He fills the festivities with magical entertainment, dancing dolls, and toys for the children. Herr Drosselmeyer has a special surprise for Clara, a Nutcracker doll. Overjoyed, Clara dances with her new Nutcracker, but her jealous brother, Fritz, damages the Nutcracker. Herr Drosselmeyer fixes it with his magic powers, and after one final dance, the guests leave.
That night, Clara falls into a deep sleep but is woken by giant mice that menace and threaten her. Herr Drosselmeyer protects her and helps her escape. She finds herself back in the living room where, to her amazement, the Christmas tree grows to giant size, and she is in the midst of a huge battle between an army of tin soldiers and the mice. The Nutcracker doll comes to life and duels with the King Mouse. The Nutcracker ultimately rescues Clara from the King Mouse, whom she distracts by throwing her slipper, thus saving herself from his clutches. Herr Drosselmeyer takes Clara on the first part of a magical journey, the first stop of which is the Land of Snow, presided over by the Snow Queen and her Cavalier.
Herr Drosselmeyer then takes Clara to the Land of the Sweets, where she is met by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her court of angels. Clara recounts her story of battle with the King Mouse. As a reward, the Sugar Plum Fairy performs her famous dance for Clara and invites her to stay and watch while she is entertained by the many Divertissements who inhabit her kingdom.
Michael Vernon is chair emeritus of the Ballet Department and professor of ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He studied at the Royal Ballet School in London with Dame Ninette de Valois and Leonide Massine. He performed with The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera Ballet, and the London Festival Ballet before moving to New York in 1976 to join the Eglevsky Ballet as ballet master and resident choreographer under the directorship of Edward Villella. Vernon served as artistic director of the company from 1989 to 1996. He has choreographed for the Eglevsky Ballet, BalletMet, and North Carolina Dance Theatre, and Mikhail Baryshnikov commissioned him to choreograph the pas de deux In a Country Garden for American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Vernon’s solo S’Wonderful was danced by ABT principal Cynthia Harvey in the presence of President and Mrs. Reagan and shown nationwide on CBS television. Vernon served as the assistant choreographer on Ken Russell’s movie Valentino, starring Rudolph Nureyev and Leslie Caron. Vernon has taught at Steps on Broadway (New York City) since 1980 and been a company teacher for American Ballet Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He has been involved with the Ballet Program of the Chautauqua Institution since 1996 and is the artistic advisor for the Ballet School of Stamford. He is permanent guest teacher at the Manhattan Youth Ballet and has a long association with Ballet Hawaii. For Indiana University, Vernon has choreographed Endless Night, Jeux, Spectre de la Rose, and Cathedral, and has staged and provided additional choreography for the full-length classics Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. He has choreographed for many IU Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater productions, such as Faust and the world premiere of Vincent.
Marzio Conti began his career as a flutist, debuting at the Salzburg Festival at the age of 20 with “I Solisti Veneti.” He has been considered internationally as one of his generation’s exponents of flute playing, recording, and teaching classes for the most important international institutions. He decided to leave concertizing in the mid-nineties to devote himself entirely to conducting. A student of Piero Bellugi, Conti soon began to be named titular director in several Italian orchestras and abroad. Since then, he has directed prestigious orchestras around the world, varying from symphonic repertoire to opera and often collaborating with renowned ballet companies. He has numerous recordings with international labels. Conti has appeared frequently on television and radio, promoting contemporary music in addition to traditional symphonic repertoire and opera. He has held positions as principal and artistic director in several Italian and foreign orchestras. His last position was titular director of Spain’s Oviedo Filarmonia from 2011 to 2017, receiving prizes including the prestigious Gold Medal Auditorium of Oviedo, considered the highest artistic recognition of the city. In recent years, he has served several times on the jury of the arts in the Princess of Asturias Awards. Conti has played, directed, and recorded with some of the greatest soloists, singers, stage directors, dancers, and choreographers on the international scene. Since 2014, he has collaborated as guest conductor and professor with the Jacob School of Music, and since 2017, he has served as principal guest conductor of the American Institute of Musical Studies festival in Graz.
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, and raised not two blocks from campus, C. David Higgins started his theatrical studies at IU intent on becoming an actor/dancer before he discovered his love for scenic design. He studied with the famous C. Mario Cristini and became proficient in the Romantic-Realist style of scenic design and painting. After earning his master’s degree, Higgins joined the staff of Indiana University Opera Theater and worked as master scenic artist from the time the Musical Arts Center opened in 1971 until his retirement in December 2011. He was appointed to the faculty in 1976 and served as chair of the Opera Studies Department and principal designer for Opera Theater. His design credits throughout the United States include the San Antonio Festival, Memphis Opera, Norfolk Opera, Louisville Opera, Detroit Symphony, Canton Ballet, and Sarasota Ballet as well as many other venues. His Indiana University productions have been seen throughout North America as rentals by major regional opera companies. His many international credits include the Icelandic National Theater; Ballet San Juan de Puerto Rico; Korean National Opera; Seoul City Opera; Korean National Ballet; Dorset Opera (England); Teatro la Paz de Belém, Brazil; and the Teatro National de São Paulo, Brazil. He has designed thescenery for the world premiere of Our Town (Ned Rorem), the American premieres of Jeppe (Sandström) and The Devils of Loudun (Penderecki), and the collegiate premieres of Nixon in China (Adams) and The Ghosts of Versailles (Corigliano) as well as many other operas and ballets. Known for his Italianate painting style, Opera News magazine has referred to Higgins as one today’s finest American scenic artists.
Mike Schwandt designed his first opera, La Bohème, at the Jacobs School of Music in 1989 as a student under the late Allen R. White. Since then, Schwandt has lit over 120 opera and ballet productions at the Musical Arts Center (MAC). He became resident lighting designer for IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater in 1999 and remained until 2009. He designed the original lighting for this production of The Nutcracker, which debuted in 1998, and is pleased to return for its twenty-fifth anniversary at the MAC.
Andrew Elliot is a makeup artist, wig designer, stylist, and cellist. His design and music work can be seen and heard with IU Jacobs School of Music Opera and Ballet Theater, Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre, Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Actors Theatre of Indiana, Phoenix Theatre, Zach & Zack Productions, Summer Stock Stage, and others. His makeup and stylist work can be seen locally and nationally in various publications, commercials, billboards, industrials, and editorials. He spent 2020 recreating icons of film, fashion, and theater, which gained national attention, with features in The New York Times, NowThis News, The Indianapolis Star, and Indianapolis Monthly.
Robin Hoover Allen specializes in teaching creative movement classes for young children with a pre-ballet focus, and she also teaches elective courses in classical and contemporary ballet as an adjunct instructor with the ballet department. Allen is an alumna of IU holding a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Human Biology and a Master of Science in Ballet Performance.
Christian Claessens is lecturer in ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He began his ballet training at the Conservatoire de la Monaie. In 1978, he came to New York on scholarship to the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre School. After graduating, he performed with the Kansas City Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. In 1984, he returned to Europe as a member of the Dutch National Ballet. As a soloist, Claessens toured internationally with Stars of the American Ballet, Stars of the New York City Ballet, Stars of the Hong Kong Ballet, and Kozlov and Friends. In 1991, he cofounded the Scarsdale Ballet Studio with Diana White. In 1999, he codirected the International Ballet Project with Valentina Kozlova and White, both of New York City Ballet. In 1998, he took over the directorship of the Purchase Youth Ballet. He was the director of La Leçon: Christian Claessens School of Ballet in Westchester, New York.
Sasha Janes is associate professor of ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He was born in Perth, Australia, and received his formal dance training from the Australian Ballet School. He has danced professionally with West Australian Ballet, Australian Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, and Dayton Ballet, performing principal roles in works by Jiří Kylián, George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Marius Petipa, Septime Webre, Anthony Tudor, Dwight Rhoden, Alonzo King, Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, and many others. At the invitation of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and associate artistic director Patricia McBride, Janes joined Charlotte Ballet in 2003. In 2006, he was commissioned to choreograph his first ballet, Lascia la Spina, Cogli la Rosa, and has since choreographed several ballets for Charlotte Ballet, including Carmen, Dangerous Liaisons, We Danced Through Life, Last Lost Chance, Shelter, At First Sight, Loss, The Four Seasons, The Red Dress, Utopia, Playground Teasers, The Seed and the Soil, Chaconne, Queen, Sketches from Grace, and Rhapsodic Dances, which was performed as part of the Kennedy Center’s Ballet Across America series in June 2013. The Washington Post called Janes “a choreographer to watch.” He was a participant in New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute and has been a guest choreographer for Richmond Ballet’s New Works Festival. He was a principal dancer with Charlotte Ballet for eight seasons before being named rehearsal director in 2007 then associate artistic director in 2012 and adding the title resident choreographer in 2013. In fall 2016, Janes premiered his ballet Saudade for the Jacobs School of Music, where he served as guest faculty. In spring 2017, he premiered his Wuthering Heights for Charlotte Ballet, inspired by Emily Bronte’s classic novel. In fall 2020, he premiered the first two movements of 19 at the Jacobs School.
Rebecca Janes is an adjunct faculty member at the IU Jacobs School of Music. After a professional career spanning 20 years, dancing principal roles by George Balanchine, Alonzo King, Dwight Rhoden, Nacho Duato, Marius Petipa, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Anthony Tudor, and Sasha Janes, she moved to Bloomington with her family. Before coming to Bloomington, Janes was part of the senior ballet faculty at Charlotte Ballet Academy. She has been teaching for nine years and is also on faculty at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.
Glenda Lucena is a world-renowned professional ballet teacher and repetiteur. She brings her insight, excellence, and spirituality into every studio. She has served as ballet master at Miami City Ballet, taught consistently for the Chautauqua Institution, and served as both faculty and repetiteur for the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department.
Kyra Nichols is professor of ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music, where she holds the Violette Verdy and Kathy Ziliak Anderson Chair in Ballet. Nichols began her early training with her mother, Sally Streets, a former member of New York City Ballet (NYCB). Nichols became an apprentice and then a member of the corps de ballet at NYCB in 1974 and was promoted to soloist in 1978. In 1979, George Balanchine promoted her to principal dancer, and she worked closely with both Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She performed numerous leading roles in the NYCB repertoire, including Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Number 2, Stars and Stripes, Liebeslieder Walzer, and Davidsbündlertänze. She has worked with an extensive list of choreographers, including William Forsythe, Susan Stroman, Christopher Wheeldon, Jacques D’Amboise, Robert La Fosse, and Robert Garland. Nichols retired from New York City Ballet in June 2007 after 33 years with the company, the longest-serving principal dancer in the company’s history. Immediately prior to joining the Jacobs School, she was ballet mistress at Pennsylvania Ballet.
Irina Ter-Grigoryan earned her degrees of piano performance, pedagogy, and accompaniment in the former Soviet Union. She served as a faculty member at the Baku State Conservatory and as an accompanist for the Azerbaijan State Theater Opera and Ballet. She was selected from a small pool of musicians to accompany international and regional competitions representing the Soviet Union. During her time in the United States, she has continued her work as an accompanist with the Temple Square Concert Series Recitals in Salt Lake City, Utah; University of Utah; and Ballet West Co.; and as a collaborative pianist at DePauw University. She currently holds the position of accompanist and music director with the IU Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department.
Sarah Wroth is chair of the Ballet Department and associate professor of ballet at the IU Jacobs School of Music. She began her training at the Frederick School of Classical Ballet in Frederick, Maryland. In 2003, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance with an Outside Field in Education from the Jacobs School of Music. That same year, she joined Boston Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet. With the company, Wroth performed principal roles in works by William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Marius Petipa, Jerome Robbins, Helen Pickett, and Mikko Nissinen, and soloist roles in ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton, George Balanchine, and August Bournonville. She has performed with Boston Ballet internationally in Spain, England, South Korea, and Finland. In 2009, she was awarded the E. Virginia Williams Inspiration Award for her unwavering dedication to ballet and the Boston Ballet Company. Wroth earned a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University in 2015 and retired from Boston Ballet in May 2017.