Feel free to clap when you see something you like, Ballet Quad-Cities executive director Joedy Cook told more than 1,000 grade-schoolers who were at the Adler Theatre on Friday.
And by the time the 1-hour, 45-minute production of “The Nutcracker” was finished, quite a few of them ended up with sore hands.
The student audience, representing 18 schools and some home-schooled youngsters, was delighted with nearly everything they saw. Leaps, kicks and even onstage kisses got hands clapping.
Reviewers were invited to the performance, but it passed the toughest critics of all. And they might not have known a tutu from a 2-by-4 prior to the show beginning.
We saw the same performance, which continues with shows twice today and once Sunday at the Adler, with two exceptions: Cedar Rapids-based Orchestra Iowa, whose symphony is playing the Tchaikovsky score, was not there; and Uncle Drosselmeyer, played by Cedar Rapids radio show host Scott Schulte, was not present. Jacob Lyon, who dances the title role, filled in.
As with the first performance I viewed last year, I was struck by the opulent opening party scene as the curtain rises. (So were my young critic counterparts; it brought their first applause.)
There’s such a lush, full and magnificent look to it all, partially thanks to a gorgeous painted backdrop that convinces the eye there’s more depth to the room being portrayed.
Emily Kate Long and Lyon return as Clara and the Nutcracker. Their pas de deux is graceful and precisioned. Long’s Clara has many different styles with many partners throughout the performance and handles them all with grace.
A cadre of other dancers keeps the spirit lively thanks to artistic director Courtney Lyon’s choreography.
The party scene that comprises the first act is a raucous, energy-filled delight.
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In the second act, Clara and the Nutcracker watch as a succession of dancers performs before them.
Kelsee Green and Walker Martin’s Spanish dance is mesmerizing. Margaret Huling and Jackson Warring have wonderful precision in the Arabian dance. Muscatine native Calvin Rowe moves with great fluidity as the lead Chinese dancer.
Larger group dances followed, each with their own flair and showmanship.
Almost all of the children in the audience had their eyes fixed onstage all through the ballet and ended up saving their biggest applause for the curtain call.
To paraphrase a cereal commercial, it’s kid-tested and reviewer-approved.