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Mérida children are on their toes dancing in new ‘Nutcracker’

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Mérida children prepare to be part of a Nutcracker performance. Photo: Alejandro Manzanilla for Yucatán Magazine

A new Mérida-based dance troupe is staging the “Nutcracker” with the help of several local young ballet students. 

Every year, thousands of productions of the “Nutcracker” take place worldwide.

But that may not have been what anyone would have thought at the 1892 premiere of E.T.A. Hoffman’s story about a Nutcracker and Mouse King — set to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The ballet was an utter flop, except for the music, which everyone knows as the “Nutcracker Suite.”

Young Mérida dance students take part in a performance of The Nutcracker, a Christmas favorite. Photo: Alejandro Manzanilla for Yucatán Magazine

Fast forward to the United States in 1954 and Russian emigre George Balanchine’s production. The version in Mérida, by Compañía Peninsular de Danza, takes its form after this version, which popularized the ballet and made it a Christmas staple. 

The school was founded in 1976 by María del Socorro Echeverría Molina and is headed by her daughter, Laura Manzanillo. The academy teaches the acclaimed Cuban method of classical ballet developed by Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso, her former husband Fernando and his brother Alberto. Together, they developed a technique ideally suited to the Latin body type. The company’s artistic director, Pati Molina, also acts as head ballet mistress and regisseur. 

For Mérida’s Nutcracker performance, the Mouse King role is filled by a local dancer. Photo: Alejandro Manzanilla for Yucatán Magazine

Though this is the company’s first full-length Nutcracker, they have in the past presented several productions through the school. The 11-member troupe is augmented by students from Danza de Alto Rendimiento and the role of Cavalier will be danced by school alum and member of the Mexican National Ballet, Braulio Fernandez. The Mérida performance is 8 p.m. Jan. 6 and 17 at the 1,220-seat Teatro Armando Manzanero, Calle 62 between 59 and 61, Centro.

Tickets are available at the theater box office or through tusboletos.mx.

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