MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This holiday season, the Minnesota Dance Theater’s “The Nutcracker Fantasy” is back.
The holiday classic has drawn more than 1.5 million audience members in its 47-year history, making it the longest running arts event in Minnesota. But this year, there’s a big change in store for the show.
For decades, Minnesota Dance Theater has taught the art of dance at the Hennepin Center for the Arts on the corner of 6th Street and Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
“We have been in this building for a long time, since the early ’80s. So this is our home,” said Minnesota Dance Theater artistic director Lise Houlton.
But in that time, their home had no stage to perform for audiences on. They’ve performed on stage at the State Theater … until now.
With the opening of the Cowles Center in September, the dance company and school finally has a stage to call home, as well.
“It’s such a gift in the holiday season,” said Houlton.
This Christmas, their longest-running show — the Nutcracker Fantasy — will take over the stage. Lise’s mother, the late Loyce Houlton, choreographed the show 47 years ago.
“One of her real talents was her absolute delight in children. And the choreography for them is challenging,” said Lise Houlton. They are working very, very hard.”
Part of the magic of this production, which is one of nine in the Twin Cities this holiday season, is the costumes.
“These were built back in ’93, and you can see all the names of the different dancers who have worn it,” said Lise Houlton. “There are a wealth of stories and names in costumes, shared experience through those costumes. And if you look close up, you’ll see the wear and tear, but from the other side of the stage, they look as fresh as can be.”
The Cowles Center has about a quarter of the seating that the State Theater has, so this new venue will provide a much more intimate experience.
“The Nutcracker Fantasy” runs Dec. 23 through Dec. 30. Tickets are on sale now starting at $36 dollars. The show has been so popular that they’ve added an eighth performance to the run.