The holiday tradition of Ballet Quad Cities' “The Nutcracker” returns this weekend. And this time around, it features guest dancers from Quad Cities Ballet Folklorico (QCBF).
After collaborating for the first time in June, the two dance companies are partnering for the first time in performing the classic Tchaikovsky fairy tale. The performance, with live music by Orchestra Iowa, debuted last weekend in Cedar Rapids, and comes to Davenport's Adler Theatre this weekend.
“The audiences in Cedar Rapids loved the addition of that whole look. It was fabulous,” BQC executive director Joedy Cook said of four QCBF dancers in the Act I party scene and in the Act II Spanish dance scene.
“I've been thinking about it for so long — adding that element of Mexican folk dancing because they're here,” Cook said. “There's an element of crossover between Spanish and Mexican: the passion, flavor, movement, music. It's a natural.
"People always talk about partnering, but it has to be a partnership that works," she said. "You have to share common passions, goals, loves. This works. Dance is the passion of Ballet Quad Cities and Ballet Folklorico.”
The Spanish dance, with BQC's Aubrey Clayton, has QCBF dancers Caillou Delapaz of Rock Island and Justin Garcia, Michael Garcia and Matthew Garcia of Davenport in traditional Mexican costumes.
“I think the audience enjoyed it; it kind of surprises them,” said Ray Terronez Jr, director of QCBF. “It's an amazing show, very professional work. It's a positive addition to the show; it showcases diversity."
“It works fine; they put the footwork in the piece, and people love it,” said BQC guest dancer Domingo Rubio, who plays toymaker Drosselmeyer and performs the Act II Arabian dance. “It fits right there."
Terronez agreed that the collaboration was a nice fit.
"Obviously, we're two different styles, but we can find common areas," he said. "We're learning a tremendous amount from them, and they're appreciating the variety of cultures, the different styles from us.”
Moline-based QCBF began in 1984. Terronez, a QCBF alum, has been the director since 2008. Over that time it's grown from about 30 young dancers to 80, performing at 41 events this year.
This is the first time Terronez and many Folklorico dancers had seen “Nutcracker,” which premiered in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“This combination is exposing them to that art, to that show,” Terronez said of his dancers. “I'm hoping some of my families take their kids. It's an amazing show.
Terronez has taught at BQC School of Dance, which also features Dorian Byrd instructing students on African-American styles, Cook said.
This “Nutcracker” has an extra dash of Mexican flair with the return of Rubio, a veteran Italian-Mexican dancer, who performed Drosselmeyer in the Quad-Cities about 10 years ago and has been a frequent “Dracula” in BQC productions. This weekend, he also does the Arabian dance with Mica Ward.
In another twist, Aubrey Clayton dances the Rat Queen (a variation on the traditional Rat King) with the QCBF boys. Terronez choreographed his dancers; BQC artistic director Courtney Lyon created movements for Clayton and much of the rest of the ballet. Emily Kate Long did choreography for the gingerbread cookies scene.
Clara is alternately danced by two girls, Ava Harrington, 12, of Bettendorf, and Maleah Golden, 14, of Davenport. “You have to make sure you have two equally strong dancers,” Cook said. “They're equally as talented. They share rehearsal time and share stage time.”
Oliver Klipsch, 14, of Davenport, is the young prince and Drosselmeyer's nephew. He escorts Clara into the Land of the Sweets.
“He has a way of moving," Rubio said. "He does one gesture, and he's better than a professional.”