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Let it snow: Charlotte Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’ kicks off holiday season
Tchaikovsky’s Christmas classic opens Dec. 7
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2018
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

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Once a year, snow falls in Belk Theater.

Charlotte Ballet’s annual presentation of “The Nutcracker” kicks off the holiday season on Dec. 7. Dancers Raven Barkley and Maurice Mouzon are quite familiar with the work of Tchaikovsky, and recently made their debut on The Post’s podcast The Creatives to preview the Christmas classic.

Barkley had 10 days to transition from New York to Charlotte in 2015, after graduating from the State University of New York at Purchase. She officially joined Charlotte Ballet on June 1 that year, and has since become a seasoned veteran. On Friday night, she takes what has become a familiar stage.

“I am doing Spanish, Arabian, Marzipan and that’s about it,” she laughed. “Two of the roles that I’m doing I have a partner for them. We have to make sure that we find our cohesiveness together, listen to the music, and really bring out the character in each role.”

While the score remains the same, no two productions of “The Nutcracker” are identical.

“There are different nuances that you find in each variation each year that you do it,” said Mouzon, who is in his third season with Charlotte Ballet and promoted from the second company to the first a month into his career.

“I’ll be performing gopak, candy cane, soldier doll, and I am also a party parent, which is really fun to step in as different characters, and bring something new each time to it,” he said. “It’s really fun. I love it, and I feel like the audience—they always get a kick out of it.”

Each first encounter with “The Nutcracker” has a unique story, from performing in it to hearing the music around Christmastime to a childhood storybook. Performing in it professionally is another level.

“I was at Baltimore School for the Arts, and when I first saw ‘The Nutcracker,’ the first thing that screamed to me was the snow scene,” Mouzon said. “The music is very expressive. It gets you very excited to see what’s to come, and just to see the snow fall, and the snow pas de deux between the female and the male it was so beautiful. I was like, ‘one day, hopefully I can get up there, and do the same thing.’”

Said Barkley: “When I was young, I used to go to my aunt’s house, and she had a nutcracker ornament. I was intrigued by it. I don’t know why.”

Barkley noted that growing up in New York City made it impossible not to come into contact with the story in some way.

“I always saw posters on my way to school of [New York] City Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker,’ and I said, ‘one day I want to do that,’” Barkley. “Finally when I got to high school, I excerpts of the ‘The Nutcracker’ with Dance Theatre of Harlem. I didn’t perform the full-length version until I got to college. It was the most memorable out of anything, because my first role was snow. I remember having the snow fall down on me, and I was like, ‘this is breathtaking.’ I am very thankful for this. It’s a holiday classic. It puts me in the mood for the holiday season.”

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