BALLET AFICIONADOS will be delighted to hear that the Monica Loughman Ballet Company will bring its latest production, The Nutcracker, to Town Hall Theatre on Friday November 4 and Saturday 5.
This ever popular and superbly beautiful ballet scored by Tchaikovsky will be a visual and aural delight staged by one of the country’s leading ballet companies to kick-start the senses for some magical pre-Christmas cheer this November.
In this unique Irish production of the ballet, Ms Loughman is very excited to welcome two principal dancers from the Bolshoi Theatre - Ivan Mikhalev and Inessa Bikbulatova - to play lead roles in this staging of the ballet.
To add some extra dynamism to this production Monica has deployed three hip hop stars - Matthew Williamson, Donking Rongaville, and Ian Harris - who took part in the RTÉ series Ballet Chancers in 2008 and have joined the company for this season’s Nutcracker.
The ballet will feature more than 100 beautiful handcrafted costumes, together with stunning backdrops from Russia, and a custom-built set. Monica Ennis, costume maker for Riverdance, was commissioned to make 11 of the costumes for The Nutcracker.
This production also represents a great collaboration of different types of dance artists from other genres and promises to bring The Nutcracker firmly into the 21st century. It will be a fresh interpretation designed to thrill ballet enthusiasts and novices interested in seeing a ballet for the first time.
The production is also significant in that it sees Loughman rename her company. When they last visited Galway it was as The Irish Youth Russian Ballet but now they are the Monica Loughman Ballet Company.
“When I started as youth ballet the girls were all very young and I didn’t put too much pressure on them,” Loughman explains of the change. “Then after doing Giselle, our last production, I stood back and had a look at it and realised this was no longer a youth company, they had gone the next step and become more professional so I decided to change the name, it ups the stakes and lets the dancers know I have put my faith in them.”
The Nutcracker starts with the central character Clara who dreams that her toys come to life. Fearsome battles between the Mouse King’s army and the soldier toys, led by Clara’s beloved Nutcracker, endure before the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince, who takes Clara to the beautiful Kingdom of Sweets.
Set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score this ballet includes dances from Saudi Arabia, China, Spain, and Russia making this production an unforgettable magical story, ideal for audiences of all ages and for all fans of the ballet.
“I’ve brought in two stars from the Bolshoi Theatre who will dance the older lead roles, the younger leads are both Irish dancers,” Loughman reveals. “I also have two hip-hop dancers taking the role of Drosselmeyer. When I saw The Nutcracker in Russia I always felt Drosselmeyer was portrayed as a dark character and I think he is just slightly odd.
“The three dancers who are joining us from the Ballet Chancers series are doing stuff that is more complicated and more ballet refined than before and it’s great for me to bring these people into ballet from another genre and see they have such passion for it.”
The Monica Loughman Ballet Company’s repertoire now includes The Nutcracker, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Giselle, La Sylphide, and an expansive concert programme. Young dancers from across Ireland attend the regular auditions to join the company and entry has become highly competitive.
Monica has been supported by Allianz for the past five years and in this time has built the company to 70 dancers including eight males.
Monica is also delighted to announce this year the launch of The Bridge Programme. Ballet schools across Ireland can join this programme as a way to help their students’ transition from ballet school to performing on the stage. Monica will be travelling throughout Ireland in 2012 doing workshops about the auditions process for her company and how best to prepare.
“I was recently asked if I would describe what is happening as a ‘Ballet Revolution’ and certainly when you see 70 girls lined up around a hotel like the X-Factor to audition it looks like it!” Loughman states.
“What we have is a grassroots ballet company that is on a trajectory to becoming a true national ballet entity. The biggest names in Russian Ballet – dancers that you would normally have to travel to London or Russia to see - continue to support our productions and dazzle our loyal audience.”
Monica Loughman began her ballet training in Dublin aged four and moved to Russia, to the Perm State Ballet Institute, at 14.
She was the first person from outside Russia ever to be invited to join the prestigious Russian company. Monica was promoted to the role of soloist at Perm in 2002 aged 22. In her 10 years there she featured and danced principal roles in all of the major productions including Giselle, Swan Lake, La Sylphide, Romeo and Juliet, Concerto Barroco, and The Nutcracker.
In the future Monica hopes to see a full time Ballet Academy in Ireland and that with the support of her homeland, her company will evolve into an Irish State Ballet Company.
In the meantime, Galway audiences can savour what promises to be a memorable production of The Nutcracker. Performances are at 8pm on November 4 and 5 and there is also a matinee performance at 2.30pm on the Saturday.
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie