Black Swamp Arts School 2021

Emma Ross, from left to right, Bella Burkholder, Marah Flores, Brixton Burkholder and Lucy Bowers all star in The Black Swamp Fine Arts School's Russian version of “The Nutcracker.”

The Black Swamp Fine Arts School will be presenting a Russian version of “The Nutcracker.”

“Masha and the Nutcracker” will be staged July 23-24.

Fifty-four students and five adult dancers will take part, said Sophia Jarrell, school director.

The Black Swamp Fine Arts School is in its fifth year providing music, dance and art training for children and adults.

The production will use Tchaikovsky’s traditional score but is set in Russia. Historically-accurate costumes will be worn.

The year is 1816 and the young Vsevolozhsky children eagerly await the arrival of their beloved Uncle Ivanov. The house is filled with joy at the reunion of the family. Excitement stirs in the hearts of all as Uncle Ivanov announces that his travel trunk is laden with gifts that he has chosen for each member of his family. As the parcels are distributed and admired, Uncle Ivanov’s niece, Masha, is especially interested in the national origin of each item.

Exotic silks, spices, chocolate and coffee emerge from his traveling trunk, but these gifts are not for young Masha. Delicately-decorated marzipan cakes and sweet Russian pastila are quickly gobbled up by the little children. A gorgeous sugarplum princess is passed between eager hands. However, it is the wooden German nutcracker that captures Masha’s affection.

After the events of the evening adjourn, the guests retreat to their homes, and the children to their beds for a restful night’s sleep. But Uncle Ivanov’s gifts are so fantastical that for Masha, they inspire vivid dreams of a fierce battle between toy soldiers and a wicked mouse queen, a snowy journey with a Sugar Plum Fairy, and a magical arrival to a far-off land.

Masha, in Russian, is a nickname for Maria. In the original “Nutcracker,” the plot revolves around a German girl named Clara.

Marah Flores and Jane McCartney will share the role of Masha.

The storyline differs in several ways, Jarrell said.

In the Land of Sweets, Mother Ginger will appear but the children will come out of a very large gingerbread house rather than her skirt.

The Mouse Queen will be small and the mice she is directing will be large.

During the party scene, each dance will correspond with a gift. For example, for a sugar plum doll, dancers will perform the sugar plum dance; for chocolate from Spain, they will dance to a Spanish tune.

“All the costumes from the party scene have been created by hand,” Jarrell said, explaining the fabric was ordered from India.

This Christmas in July performance was originally schedule for December, but had to be canceled due to a performer’s expose to the coronavirus, Jarrell said.

“We’re really proud of the dancers who continued to rehearse,” she said. “We are really excited to being on stage finally.”

Audience members are encouraged to wear Christmas attire to the shows for fun.

Toledo native Rebekah Schmitz, from Jackson, Mississippi, has been hired to play the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Several members of the Findlay Academy of Ballet also will participate.

Schmitz and Jarrell choreographed the show along with Hayley Havener and Kaitlynn McCamey.

The Black Swamp Fine Arts School will perform “The Planets” by Gustav Holst in December.

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