Houston Ballet: The Nutcracker

There are giant mice, a King Rat, toy soldiers that come to life and Clara, who seems a nice enough young girl, whirled into a wild post-party night when magic and Tchaikovsky’s music take over the evening’s events. Yes, it’s time once again for Houston Ballet’s annual holiday offering of The Nutcracker. Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Simon Ball has been doing The Nutcracker for 30 years now. Initially recruited by his ballet-lessons-taking sister to fill out the ranks of little soldiers in the party scene, Ball says he discovered he loved the energy of the ballet. “And I made a career of it.”

This year Ball will reprise his role as the Nutcracker Prince, which means he’s in Act 1 and Act II, pairing with the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. “That’s a definite challenge, but I do like that we have a character who appears throughout the ballet,” he says. He will also dance the role of the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer, who presents Clara with the doll in the first place. Former Houston Ballet artistic director Ben Stevenson (now artistic director of the Texas Ballet Theater in Fort Worth), who choreographed the version used in Houston, is coming back this year to see the production here, Ball says.

His first memories of The Nutcracker, Ball says, will always be with him, and remind him of how important this production is to many people. “It does make me remember that this is the first experience and maybe the only experience that young people have in ballet, so you have to take it with that kind of seriousness that you are potentially setting someone’s life off because they came to the ballet and loved it and are either lifelong ballet fans or they want to be a dancer themselves,” he says.

And two of the youngsters in attendance will be Ball’s own children, ages four and eight. “I’m looking forward to bringing my two daughters to the show and passing that on. I feel very lucky that they can see their daddy dance. You never imagine that when you begin ballet that, ‘Oh, maybe someday my kids will watch me dance.’”

The Nutcracker opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 28. Performances continue through December 28. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For complete listings, call 713‑227‑2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $35 to $95.
Nov. 28-30, 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 29-30, 2 p.m.; Dec. 6-7, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 13-14, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 16-23, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 20-24, 2 p.m.; Dec. 26-28, 2 & 7:30 p.m., 2014

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing