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A 'Nutcracker' set in the City of Light

Configuration Dance Theatre is switching on the lights for a Buffalo-centric production of "The Nutcracker."

The Tchaikovsky ballet will be set against the fanciful backdrop of the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. The magic begins at a Christmas party in a beautiful Buffalo home. Some of the city’s most prominent citizens are present. And the Christmas tree glows, for the first time, with electric Christmas tree lights.

It's more appropriate than it might seem. Only 10 years before 1901, Tchaikovsky had visited Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Scholars believe that it was on that trip that he had the inspiration for "The Nutcracker." Changing trains in Utica after marveling at the falls, he wrote to his brother back in Russia, "Ginger bread and toy soldiers have started dancing in my head.”

Joseph Cipolla, the distinguished dancer who heads Configuration, appreciates how "The Nutcracker" can spark the imagination. He said: “The beauty of The Nutcracker is in its ability to be told in a variety of settings and from different perspectives while remaining true to its structure and musical form."

The ballet features principal dancers LeeAnn Elder and Norbert Nirewicz in the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince.

Productions of Configuration Dance Theatre's "The Nutcracker" take place at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 10 at the Flickinger Performing Arts Center at Nichols School, 1250 Amherst St. Tickets are $15-$22.50. For info, call 883-4510.



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