The Sugar Plum Fairy was there, and the Nutcracker and Clara, of course.
The Land of Sweets was still sweet and Tchaikovsky’s music was still marvelous, but one major thing was missing: the audience.
No applause, just empty seats yawning out from the Avalon Theatre’s stage as dancers bowed and curtsied at the end of their performance that was recorded two weeks ago.
Now those seats can finally be filled, albeit in homes across the Grand Valley and beyond, with the online release of “The Nutcracker” ballet presented by Absolute Dance and Performing Arts.
The holiday ballet can be streamed from Dec. 11 though Jan. 3. A ticket to view the performance costs $20 per household and can be purchased through absolutedancegj.com.
The production has two casts to choose from and includes bonus footage of guest dancers from the State Street Ballet that was recorded at their company studio in Santa Barbara, California.
While an online-only ballet wasn’t what was originally planned — six live performances at the Avalon had to be canceled because of the recent COVID-19 surge — Absolute Dance’s executive and artistic director Theresa Kahl was happy they were able to put on the ballet at all.
Masks were worn by dancers at rehearsals and during the recording. Choreography had to be adjusted for social distancing and for dancers placed in isolation or quarantine and who were unable to rehearse or even perform, Kahl said.
“Toward the end it was just a Hail Mary pass to even have it recorded,” Kahl said.
One major change that will be noticed at the beginning of the ballet is that the Christmas party scene takes place at an orphanage instead of in a family home.
This idea was one Kahl saw elsewhere and used for a “Nutcracker with a twist” performance 11 years ago. It allowed for better social distancing by dancers and avoided the awkwardness of having “families” that couldn’t touch, she said.
In this version, a magician performs for children at an orphanage for Christmas and brings gifts, including a nutcracker, which demonstrates how a “simple gift can spark magic,” Kahl said.
While it would have been nice to offer those live performances, there are some benefits to the online recording, she admitted.
You can pause the video, fast forward or re-watch the parts you like with ease, she said.
“You can make comments without feeling like you have to be quiet,” she said.
Ticket buyers also can participate in some random giveaways on Absolute Dance’s Facebook page, said Kahl, who is hopeful for some public shout-outs from those who watch “The Nutcracker.”
“Even though we got closure one way or another, those kids never got their applause,” she said. “We’re thankful we at least got to be on stage.”