During this most festive of seasons, I feel so very fortunate to live in a city where art, history, culture and a sense of community meld together seamlessly. Individuals, friends, couples and families have so many options to help get them into the holiday spirit. Over the next several pages, we will show off some of our favorite holiday activities and performances in the metro area. Some have been around for decades, and some are welcome additions that have come about as we've watched Oklahoma City grow.
For nearly 50 years, the Oklahoma City Ballet has been delighting audiences with a time-honored holiday tradition. Its production of The Nutcracker may have evolved throughout the years, but the spirit remains the same.
For Robert Mills, artistic director of the Oklahoma City Ballet since 2008, the mission of this holiday production is clear.
"It is all about the experience of going into the theater and getting into a warm, wonderful holiday spirit."
The current choreography set design and costumes have been in production since 2014, thanks to support from Devon Energy.
While many ballet companies have modernized their rendition of this classic holiday tale, Robert is proud to produce a more traditional retelling, particularly since few still feature a live philharmonic orchestra. Multiple generations have kicked off their holiday season watching Clara's imagination ignited by a gift that sends her on a colorful, dreamlike adventure.
The ballet company features professional dancers from all over the globe. The current cast has come together from Ukraine, South Korea, Brazil, Venezuela, Denmark and many U.S. states, including Oklahoma. The children featured in the production are students at the Oklahoma City Ballet Yvonne Chouteau School. When you add in the orchestra, it takes nearly 200 performers to bring this classic tale to life.
When I asked Robert why he was so passionate about the classic rendition, his response was immediate.
"Communicating the actual story, versus a candy-coated vehicle for ballet dancers," adding that instead, "this is an adventure of two characters who go off to candy land."
This production is so well-renowned that they take the show on the road before it opens in Oklahoma City. For the sixth year in a row, the production (minus the local children and orchestra) headed to Colorado Springs to perform with their orchestra and local students over Thanksgiving. Robert believes that the popularity of this ballet stems from staying true to the original intent of the libretto. Some productions have changed the time period, and others have set the story in an entirely different country.
The Nutcracker will run for eight performances between Dec. 14 and 22. The Oklahoma City Ballet features five productions throughout the year. To see the schedule and purchase tickets, visit OKCBallet.org.
For families, many other great activities are going on in the heart of the city. The seasonal ice rink brought to us by Devon Energy is a perfect way to enjoy the crisp December air. Bring your own skates, or rent them at the rink, and twirl your way into the holiday spirit.
If you are a fan of the one-stop-shopping experience, the Holiday Pop-Up-Shops are just what you need. Featuring more than 30 local vendors throughout the month, you can sip hot chocolate as you stroll from igloo to igloo, checking off your shopping list.
If colorful lights shimmering on the water excite you, hop on the water taxi in Bricktown. Certain nights during the holiday season even offer free rides.
If you are a fan of ringing in the new year in celebratory style, Opening Night at Bicentennial Park is always a great choice. Food, entertainment and family fun combine as we say goodbye to 2019 and welcome 2020.
Tickets are available now for all performances of The Nutcracker and range from $20-$80.
Saturday, Dec. 14 – 2 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 15 – 2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 20 – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 21 – 2 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 22 – 2 p.m., 7 p.m.