This weekend, The Marat Daukayev Theatre will present its widely acclaimed production of the Nutcracker Ballet at the Luckman Theatre at California State University for five performances starting Friday, December 8 through December 10, 2023.
This production of The Nutcracker features a cast that is entirely comprised of student dancers from the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet and represents communities from across Los Angeles. Founder and Artistic Director of the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, Marat Daukayev, is a former star of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mr. Daukayev danced in principal roles at the Mariinsky (formerly Kirov) Ballet for over twenty years. Since 2001, he has brought his classical ballet experience to young aspiring dancers in the Los Angeles region. He and his family also live in the neighborhood.
“The Nutcracker is a ballet that holds a lifetime of memories for me,” said Daukayev. “As a boy, I danced in the party scene, then, for many years, I performed the principal role of the Prince, and now, I am still enjoying myself dancing the part of Drosselmeyer. I’m so happy to teach my students the details of ballet technique that were taught to me by great artists of the Mariinsky Theatre. This knowledge is the ‘golden thread,’ that must be handed from one generation to the next. In ballet we tell our story using the beautiful language of movement. Music makes lie at the heart of the story and the grandeur of Tchaikovsky’s music makes us believe that dreams really can come true.”
Every year, over one hundred young dancers ranging from age five to mid-twenties come together to bring to life the magical story of Masha and her beloved Nutcracker. Together, they triumph over the Mouse King and set off on a magical journey to a fantastical land. Dancers train for many years to gain proficiency. But each year after Nutcracker auditions, there are just three months to be ready to deliver a world-class performance.
The studio takes a uniquely thoughtful approach in the casting process, ensuring as much opportunity to burgeoning young dancers as possible with a rotating cast of dancers in every role in each of the five performances.
This year, the leading role of Masha will be performed by Nicole Lee, Lexie Spears, Canna Kuribayashi, Roen Scott, and Lila Chaudhary-Kim. The role of the Nutcracker will be performed by Shark Tolot, Geo Kim, Ashton Chen, Auggie Bikel, and Wolfie Krisel. The Prince will be danced by Zarek King and Edgar Khachaturov.
The leading role of Sugar Plum will be performed by a different dancer each night: Fri Dec 8 – Wynter Ross, a Senior at New West Charter School, Sat Dec 9 at 2 pm – Grace Tankenson, a Junior at Immaculate Heart, Sat Dec 9 at 7 pm – Annabelle Johnson, a Junior at Marlborough School, Sun Dec 10 at 11:30 am – Natalie Moon, a Junior at Beverly Hills High School, and Sun Dec 10 at 4:30m – Maya Ozawa-Minoff, a Senior at Immaculate Heart High School. These five girls, all ages 15 – 17, have trained at Marat Daukayev School of Ballet for a cumulative total of almost 40 years!
Supporting the ballet is a community of parent volunteers who are involved in every facet of the production, from costume fabrication, ticket sales, and marketing to a cast of “dancing dads” during the party scene. The costumes including the Sugar Plum Fairy, feature beautiful breath-taking pieces with original detailing from St. Petersburg which are cared for year-round by a dedicated team of studio staff as well as committed volunteers.
The Marat Daukayev Nutcracker Ballet is a must-do holiday tradition for families in the Los Angeles area. Performances will take place on Friday, December 8 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 9 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 10 at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Click here for tickets.
To learn more about the story of the ballet and listen to the wonderful music, Larchmont Buzz designer Ann Zumwinkle shared this link to an interaction story her studio recently completed for the Creative Kids Education Foundation.