Photo-Wade Bell


The Nutcracker

Choreography by Val Caniparoli
Music by P.I Tchaikovsky

Review by Valerie Canon

Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Valerie Canon. All rights reserved.

Louisville Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker is a time-honored staple of the season. As a former dancer, this ballet holds a special place in my heart. On opening night, I was immediately pulled into the performance by the lovely street scene drop that gives a nod to the performance’s main sponsor, Brown-Forman.  The lights dimmed and the Louisville Orchestra – performing live this year, to my delight – started the prologue. Although Louisville Ballet never disappoints, what followed cannot be described as a total success.

Perhaps it was from a long week of tech rehearsals, but the overall performance felt dispassionate. The party scene lacked a joyous and festive feel. It came across as a perfunctory exercise. The scene was danced well (as was the entirety of the ballet) but with little to no smiling from the dancers and an overall lack of acting, it was a bit of a disappointment.

The battle scene, on the other hand, was a lot of fun to watch. The mice and the soldiers fought an excellent battle with humor throughout. The medic mice received many a giggle from the audience, and the use of household objects as weapons was an excellent touch. This scene melted into the loveliest part of the ballet: the snow scene. The pas de deux performed by Marie (Annie Honebrink Krieger) and her Nutcracker (Benjamin Wetzel) was executed very well, though somewhat lacking in passion.  As the snow corps took the stage, in a blizzard of tulle and glitter, I again witnessed a deficit of joy. The corps de ballet seemed to be off the mark. Lines were not straight, turns were off tempo from each dancer to the next, and there was a distinct lack of the joie de vivre expected from this piece. However (and not to give away any surprises), there is a special treat at the end of the snow scene that always brings tears to my eyes.

One of the highlights of act two was the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kateryna Sellers) and her Cavalier (Brandon Ragland). They performed with a sense of royalty and grace and executed the choreography perfectly. Ms. Sellers in particular dominated the stage with her presence, and gave great strength to the role.

However, my favorite dancer of the evening was Erica De La O in the role of the Rose in the Waltz of the Flowers. Her flawless technique and natural charisma made for a lovely performance that stole the show. The corps de ballet was spot on in this number (save one momentary lapse by a renegade flower), and made the piece a true pleasure to watch.

All in all, Louisville Ballet’s The Nutcracker is a well-executed performance, though I think it could use a little cheering up and holiday spirit. Be sure to catch this classic. Performances run through December 21st. Tickets can be purchased by calling (502)584-7777 or visit

The Nutcracker

December 6-23, 2014

Louisville Ballet
Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202


Valerie[box_light]Valerie Canon is an actor, director, dancer, model, and choreographer based in the Greater Louisville area. Mrs. Canon received her BFA in ballet performance from Oklahoma University in 2004, and has performed in ballets around the country as a principal, soloist, and corps de ballet member. She is currently directing a production entitled Broadway’s Greatest Love Songs: Unhindered and Ungendered, which will premiere at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in January, 2015. [/box_light]