"The Nutcracker" Provides Cozy Familiarity, Family Enjoyment

Artistic director taking OKC Ballet in new direction

Article by Andrew Griffin

Photography by Andrew Griffin and Jana Carson

Originally published in OKC City Lifestyle

In a brightly lit building in north OKC, many dozens of ballet dancers practice, some of whom will perform in this Christmas season’s performance of The Nutcracker, which will be held at the Civic Center Music Hall Dec. 10-18.  

Lestari Kusumawardani, the marketing manager for OKC Ballet, led us on a tour of the bustling facility.

“Around 140 dancers will perform for The Nutcracker,” she said. “(T)his includes professional dancers, OKCB II, and students from the Yvonne Chouteau School of OKC Ballet.”

And leading this annual holiday event will be the Oklahoma City Ballet’s new artistic director, Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye.

“He’s young, brilliant and always looking forward,” Kusumawardani said. For instance, standing outside of one of the dance practice rooms, she said “we are very diverse. We try to train to the best of their abilities. We want to open ballet for everybody.”

Jolicoeur-Nye comes on board with an exceedingly strong resume, including experiences as a choreographer, arts advocate and teacher.

He recently expressed his excitement about this year's performance.

The Nutcracker represents the essence of tradition for families all over the United States. I will take a fresh breath into this cherished production, while holding true to the classic retelling and narrative. It is my goal to offer families exactly what they are expecting to see when they enter the theatre," Jolicoeur-Nye said. 

"A thrilling, timeless, mix of classical choreography, the most beautiful music played by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and a heartwarming story."

With an inclusive direction under Jolicoeur-Nye, OKC Ballet is committed to community engagement and “providing experiences that increase the understanding and appreciation of ballet, as well as a lifelong interest in the arts.”

At the core is the OKC Ballet’s commitment to “increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the world of ballet.”

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