The holidays are the one time of year when doing the same thing is perfectly acceptable. We bake the same desserts and argue with the same people and sometimes wear the same sweaters. We even gravitate towards the same entertainment: ice skating at Rockefeller Centre or watching The Nutcracker at the New York City Ballet.
The classically trained students do not lack in form — Photo courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet
Nothing wrong with classic tradition. Nothing wrong at all.
But The Manhattan Youth Ballet at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center wants to create a holiday twist. Think of it as adding a little peppermint schnapps to your hot chocolate – it certainly isn't worse for it.
Have you ever seen sweeter angels? — Photo courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet
The Knickerbocker Suite is the production behind this not-for-profit ballet academy created by Ms. Rose Caiola. Rose's curriculum is serious and has created many professional dancers who end up at the New York City Ballet.
Seeing one of their performances is seeing the future dancers of America, some of whom are just months away from a career, at a fraction of the price for what you would pay to see them in the future.
Beautiful costumes for just 199 pairs of eyes — Photo courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet
This new take on The Nutcracker emerged from an idea by Elliott Arkin, a brilliant artist who has even had showings in The White House. He wanted to create a Nutcracker that was a tribute to New York City. Expect ballet renditions of the Macy's Day parade, Madison Square Gardens, Rockefeller Center and Chinatown.
"The Nutcracker is a tradition for many New Yorkers," admits Rose. "It's possibly out of reach for some families with much younger children. The Knickerbocker Suite is action packed, with the same quality, technical ability and score as the original."
In short, if you have a kid who would squirm through the mention of a ballet, this is your training ground to introduce them to the music of Tchaikovsky.
Tchaikovsky has never looked so modern — Photo courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet
Some families "come to both The Nutcracker and our Nutcracker," Rose informs us.
We're pretty sure there are no adverse side effects to overdosing on Tchaikovsky. Someone would know by now!
The Knickerbocker Suite is certainly no small-time children's production. Even the sets are Broadway quality, done by Adam Koch design, a Broadway set design shop. They have improved their quality for each of the five years that The Knickerbocker Suite has been running.
Rose is particularly excited for this year's backdrop. "People will get a complete theatrical experience for much less money than you would pay at the New York City ballet."
She means it; tickets are $20 for students and $30 for adults. Running for two weekends, December 11-13 and December 18-20. Tickets can be purchased on their website.
Most interesting way to see a Mets game, hands down — Photo courtesy of Manhattan Youth Ballet
The production is set in the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, which was built to allow the budding dancers of The Manhattan Youth Ballet to shine.
"It is not only the classroom but the stage performances that makes for a complete dancer," Rose muses.
In part, we watch people dance because we know we can't do what they do. We marvel at the human body and when coupled with the spirit of the holidays...well, that's a lot of wonder and magic indeed.