Perchance to dance

Tulsa Ballet invites local youngsters to audition for roles in its annual production of “The Nutcracker.”



Sage Engle-Laird, Shelby Austin and Bobbie Lynn Kandravi talk with judge Merry Lahti at the Sept. 18 auditions for the role of Marie in “The Nutcracker.”

Each fall, Tulsa Ballet invites local young people, ages 7 and older, to audition for roles in its annual production of the holiday classic “The Nutcracker.” This year, among the toy solders, mice and other roles, two more advanced students, Bobbie Lynn Kandravi and Sage Engle-Laird, were chosen to play Marie, the little girl whose dream is brought to vivid life in the ballet.

Here, Marcello Angelini, Tulsa Ballet’s artistic director, who selected the girls for the role, discusses the “Nutcracker” audition process, the role local children play in the production and new additions to this year’s performances.

What is unique about Tulsa Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker”? Everything! I would say that our production of “The Nutcracker” is quite groundbreaking on a national level. There are thousands of productions of “The Nutcracker” being staged and performed every year in this country. The vast majority of them are “cookie cutters.” .... When I set out to create our version, I first read the novel quite a few times. Then I asked myself two key questions: Why does this story describe the spirit of Christmas, and what is the message we want to send to the people that choose to spend an evening with us? 

… In my opinion, the key element that makes “The Nutcracker” a timeless holiday story is the fact that it celebrates the most noble of human traits: generosity, courage, love and the pursuit of our dreams. If we “read” the story through the eyes of a young, uncontaminated and innocent girl’s perspective, we experience all of these feelings. We see her dream to find a valiant prince that will love and protect her. We see her resolve to do whatever it takes, even defying her biggest fears — like facing the Mouse King — to save her beloved prince. We see her dreams to become a ballerina come true. And, ultimately, we see the unique ability of young children to see beyond the façade of human beings, perceiving their soul. Our Marie is able to look beyond the rather awkward appearances of the Nutcracker to discover his true beauty.

Are there any new additions for this year’s performances? The big change this year will be the debut of a new lead female dancer, Soo Youn Cho. We just started rehearsals and she is looking stunning!

Why do you enjoy including local young people in the production? I do love to see so many children on stage with our professional dancers, but not necessarily because I want to “sell out” the integrity of our production. The little mice and the toy soldiers need to be danced by little kids. I also added a ballet studio scene to our production. I did that because I felt the best way to make the story real was to tell it through the eyes of a ballet student. ... But I also made this scene to give local dance students the opportunity to be showcased in a professional ballet performance, and not just in a supporting cast role.

The other thing I tried to do is make the story take place around dance so that dance itself would be the glue that keeps the production together. Marie, our heroine, is a student at the Paris Opera ballet school. She dreams of dancing with the superstar of the company. Every little girl that takes dance dreams of growing up and dancing with the company’s superstar. In her dream, through the experience of defeating the Mouse King and protecting her beloved Nutcracker, she grows up to become a young maiden. Of course, when the Nutcracker takes off his mask, her prince charming, Charles Drosselmeier, is revealed.

How would you describe this year’s audition process? Ah, the audition process is always interesting. You have in front of you hundreds of youngsters. I am always happy to see them try so hard to get in our “The Nutcracker.” I also find that, through the process of working with our professional staff and being on stage with truly professional dancers, the youngsters learn a thing or two about discipline, musicality, teamwork and self-confidence.

I am so happy with our staff members in charge of the kids because I feel they teach them more than just dance. The best moment for me is when we put the entire production together. After weeks of separate rehearsals, dancers and children will come together in a dance that has no room for mistakes. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the dancers, with the limited vision that their masks allow, will probably not see you and will continue executing their choreography. One of my kids learned this lesson a couple of years ago. He got hit by the sword of the Mouse King. He has not made that mistake again!

Why did you select Bobbie Lynn Kandravi and Sage Engle-Laird for the role of Marie? I actually don’t make the choice. I am just an observer in the process. It is the dancers that make the choice. If they want it badly enough, if they have worked on their technique up to that point with discipline, dedication and passion, then they will have a light around them. … This year we experienced the same process. As soon as the girls started dancing, the two Maries, Bobbie Lynn and Sage, jumped out of the group. This is the same thing that happens at auditions. This year I saw more than 1,000 dancers auditioning for the main company. The people that wanted to be in Tulsa Ballet badly enough are the ones that got the job.

What other parts do children play in the production? Children play many other roles. There is an entire scene — the ballet studio scene — that is totally dedicated to them. ... Then they will appear again in the party scene and, of course, there are dozens of cute little mice and solders. My kids were 5 when I created this version. They started as little mice, they became toy soldiers and now they are in the party scene. In a year or two, they’ll be too big and hairy to play this part again. They are not looking forward to letting go of “The Nutcracker.” This is the same for many children who grew up with this version and went from mice to Marie, in some cases. There is a special bond between them and this ballet.

Why should families make plans to see the production this year? The music, the beautiful sets and costumes, the story, the choreography and the meaning of the entire work are the perfect way for a family to connect in the most basic way — through the love that bonds and unites us to our parents, children and grandchildren and to the rest of the world. No other entertainment offering is able to both amuse you and touch you as deep as “The Nutcracker” does. And this is why this work will continue to grace the stages of theaters worldwide for decades to come.


Tulsa Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will be performed Dec. 11-23 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Second St. For more information, visit www.tulsaballet.org.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

Catching up with Allan Heinberg

The ex-Tulsan headed for Hollywood, and now has a hand in projects from television production to comic book writing.

Agenda: December

December’s can’t-miss events.

More with Allan Heinberg

Extended Q&A with the television producer and comic book writer.
Edit Module

Add your comment:
21c

 

Get the best in arts, entertainment and more straight to your inbox.

Join our email list

Edit ModuleShow Tags

January 2019

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

So You Want to Make a Movie? Learn how to take your movie idea from conception to reality through hands-on guidance. The goal is to create a short digital video to be submitted to a local film...

Cost: $375

Where:
Ahha Tulsa
101 E. Archer St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Every Wednesday Live Event Trivia is at The Willows Family Ales - Show starts at 7 and is free to play! Movie scenes, Finish the Lyric, Classic Trivia, and more! The crew from T-Town Tacos will be...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Willows Family Ales
418 south peoria ave
tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: The Willows Family Ales
Telephone: (918) 895-6798
Contact Name: Julian Morgan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Mothers of Preschoolers (and preschool means prior to school, ages 6 weeks to 5 years old). MOPS warmly welcomes any mom that has at least one child age 6 weeks to 5 years old. By joining MOPS, you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Eastwood Baptist Church
948 S 91st E Ave
Tulsa, OK  74112
View map »


Sponsor: Eastwood Baptist Church
Telephone: 918-836-8686
Contact Name: Shirley Pittenger
Website »

More information

You weren't going to keep them anyway. Break your resolutions in style with your girlfriends.  Check out The Melting Pot's special Resolution Buster Ladies’ Night Out on...

Cost: $29.95 per person

Where:
The Melting Pot
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Tulsa, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Body/Mind Techniques for Managing Stress.   Trauma, fear, panic attacks, PTSD, diabetes, chronic pain, anxiety and phobias all have components related to emotional or physical...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Hardesty Regional Library
8316 E. 93rd Street
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

More information

Come see ORU Mens Basketball vs South Dakota!

Cost: $10-$20

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 South Lewis Ave
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Sponsor: https://mabeecenter.com/event/californiabaptist1819m/
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Mabee Center
Website »

More information

Third Thursday in the Rainbow Room returns January 16 in the Lynn Riggs Theatre at OkEq.  John Hawk Co-cke’s one-man show, “The Beginnings, Into Possibilities” takes you through time with...

Cost: $10 General Admission; $15 Bistro seating

Where:
Lynn Riggs Theatre at OkEq
621 East 4th St.
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: OkEq
Telephone: 918-637-2866
Contact Name: Pat Hobbs

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

Come and Support ORU Women's Basketball as they jump into another exciting season. Join in on the fun and purchase your tickets today! All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will...

Cost: $7.00

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918-495-6000
Website »

More information

Experience our blue planet through the eyes of National Geographic explorers and those who are taking action to make a positive change. National Geographic explorers will share their stories and...

Cost: $40, $30 Members

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

We’re serving up our new chef-inspired fondue and traditional brunch options like Alpine Benedict Cheese Fondue, French Toast Fondue, Avocado Fiesta Toast plus bottomless mimosas. Reserve...

Cost: Varies

Where:
The Melting Pot of Tulsa
300 Riverwalk Terrace #190
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Sponsor: The Melting Pot of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-299-8000
Contact Name: Alex Cooper
Website »

More information

Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

Pain Management Class Non-medical Treatments for Pain Non-medical treatments may be used to treat chronic pain, along with pain medicines. They might also be used alone for mild pain or...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Glenpool Library
730 E. 141st Street
Glenpool, OK  74033
View map »


Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

More information

Toyland Ball, held every January, is The Parent Child Center’s annual signature fundraising event.  This black tie gala with a whimsical theme offers an elegant evening of dinner and...

Cost: $1,000-$25,000

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Parent Child Center of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-599-7999
Contact Name: Cox Business Center
Website »

More information

What better way to start the new year than recognizing some of the weird, winter holidays in January? If that restraining order keeps you from enjoying "International Kiss a Ginger...

Cost: $8.00

Where:
pH Community House
306 South Phoenix Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
Website »

More information

Come check out LYRX in concert at the first annual OILFIRE Chili Bowl Concert Series! This event is 21+

Cost: 25

Where:
Agora Event Center
1402 S Peoria Ave #200
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Giving Guide
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

TULtalk


2.2: Mending with Gold — Ana Berry

On this episode of the Tulsa Talks podcast, Ana Berry is a champion for the city with a new perspective on life.

Comments

Video: Soundscapes Tulsa

Comments

2.1: The Pivot — Meg Myers Morgan

Season 2 is all about reinvention, and you could say that today’s guest, Meg Myers Morgan, wrote the book on how to do it — through negotiation and self-reflection.

Comments

Lives well lived

Remembering the prominent Tulsans we lost in 2018.

Comments

Can soothing sounds help the healing process?

Amy Hamilton, a certified sound healing practitioner, offers a monthly SoundScapes class at Zen Body in Tulsa.

Comments