(Norman, Okla.) Nov. 8, 2011- OU University Theatre welcomes the holiday season with the production of the worldwide holiday favorite The Nutcracker. Oklahoma Festival Ballet, resident ballet company within the School of Dance, will perform Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker at 8 p.m. December 2-4, 8-10 and 3 p.m. December 3, 4, 10 and 11 in the Rupel J. Jones Theare in the OU Arts District. OU Symphony Orchestra will accompany the dancers with the beloved score during evening performances on December 2, 3 and the 3 p.m. performance on December 4. 


Once every four years the University of Oklahoma presents this magical holiday spectacular with a cast of over 100 dancers, including children from across Oklahoma. Each performance will be complete with lavish sets and beautifully designed costumes and an accomplished cast of dancers.


The Rupel J. Jones Theatre is located in the OU Fine Arts Center, 563 Elm Ave. in Norman. Tickets prices are $14 for students, $22 for adults and $18 for seniors, OU faculty and staff, and military. Tickets may be purchased with the OU Fine Arts Box Office (405) 325-4101.  The box office is located in the Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd Street, Norman, OK.


Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, The Nutcracker, set to the melodic score by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, has become a beloved holiday ballet performed worldwide. The libretto for the ballet was originally based on the story The Nutcracker and the King of Mice written by E.T.A Hoffman. After attending a festive Christmas party, a young girl named Clara dreams an enchanted holiday adventure through the Kingdom of Snow and the Land of Enchantment. In her dream, she watches a battle between a Mouse King and a life sized version of her Nutcracker, visits a wonderland of dancing snowflakes, meets the Sugar Plum Fairy, and is treated to a celebration of dances from around the world.


Petipa's Nutcracker came to creation after the director of the Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, commissioned Tchaikovsky to compose a double-bill program featuring an opera and a ballet. Spurred by the success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890, an earlier collaboration between Petipa and Tchaikovsky, the pair came together to create the new ballet. The Nutcracker had its premiere at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, in December of 1892, along with Tchaikovsky's opera Iolanta. The composer and choreographer later collaborated in the creation of yet another successful ballet, Swan Lake, which had given the original premiere with a different choreographer in 1877.


Tchaikovsky, who studied music at the Imperial Conservatory in St. Petersburg, is hailed as one of the most popular and influential romantic composers to date. His expressive and melodic Nutcracker Suite became an instant success among audiences and is now one of the composer's most popular compositions. From "Waltz of the Flowers" to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," Tchaikovsky's work has become iconic during the holiday season.


A great deal of popularity came to Tchaikovsky's score in 1954 with George Balanchine's adaptation of The Nutcracker for the New York City Ballet. Balanchine actually created many contemporary works to scores by Tchaikovsky including Serenade, Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.2 [Ballet Imperial] and Theme and Variations, all of which have experienced vast success, making the composer a master of twentieth century ballet as well.


The University of Oklahoma's program in dance was founded in 1963 by Yvonne Chouteau and Miguel Terekhov, former principal dancers with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. What had been a department became the School of Dance in 1998, with Mary Margaret Holt as Director. Undergraduate and graduate dance majors, along with general education students, total approximately 1000 enrollees in dance classes per semester. The School of Dance's state-of-the-art facility in the Donald W. Reynolds Performing Arts Center was completed in 2005.