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IU Ballet Theater presents 50th annual “Nutcracker” performance

It's a year of significant anniversaries for Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music: The school is in the midst of celebrating the 60th anniversary of its Opera Theater. And opening Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center is IU Ballet Theater's 50th annual production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker.

This Nutcracker production will feature choreography created specifically for the Jacobs School's talented dancers by Michael Vernon, chair of the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department.

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IU Ballet Theater presents its 50th annual "Nutcracker" performance.

"The dancers in the Jacobs School Ballet Department and the IU Pre-College program are of the highest quality, which is not only inspiring, but allows me to be very creative with the entire production," said Vernon, whose theater background has given him the experience to infuse his productions with theatrical effect and strong emotional dimensions.

The production will be conducted by guest Kevin Noe, artistic director and conductor of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. The set was designed by C. David Higgins, chair of the Jacobs School's opera studies department.

Through the years, Vernon has achieved international recognition for producing, dancing in and choreographing many versions of The Nutcracker. A prolific choreographer whose world premiere of Endless Night recently opened at the MAC to great acclaim, Vernon always finds a fresh way to approach the holiday favorite.

"I'm going to fine-tune it from last year, when we presented all-new choreography," Vernon said. "I was really pleased with how it looked -- the production staff did a really excellent job."

The Nutcracker, composed in 1892 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is based on an old German fairy tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, written in 1816 by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The ballet did not become a staple of American Christmas culture until the 1960s, following George Balanchine's production at the New York City Ballet in 1954.

The Nutcracker tells the story of young Clara, who receives a toy soldier nutcracker from her mysterious godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer. When she falls asleep with the Nutcracker in her arms and starts to dream, magical things begin to happen. The show is especially captivating for young audience members, who love the sweet music, beautiful costumes and dreamlike storyline.

As in major cities around the country, The Nutctracker has become integral to Bloomington's holiday traditions -- as well as to the IU Ballet Theater season.

The Nutcracker opens on Friday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m., with additional performances Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 6-7 at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased starting Nov. 10 through the Musical Arts Center box office (812-855-7433), online at http://www.music.indiana.edu/ballet or at any Ticketmaster location. Prices range from $18-$35.

A special "Nutcracker Tea" will be offered following the weekend matinees Dec. 6-7 in the Musical Arts Center Lobby. While enjoying cookies and an assortment of beverages, children and their families will be offered an opportunity to greet and take photographs with members of the cast.

For more information about the Jacobs School of Music, see http://www.music.indiana.edu.