One of the best elements is the costuming in Act I.  Many companies set the ballet in Germany, home of the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman. But Atlanta Ballet sets it in Russia, the home of the first performance of the ballet in Moscow in 1982. At the opening party, the guests are dressed in gorgeous traditional Russian costumes.  Marya’s family wears Western clothing, pointing out their elevated station in the community and giving a hint of the Revolution to come.

Live music is always a treat, and the synergy between the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and the dancers in the Grand Pas de Deux was

Pas de Deux. Photo: Charlie McCullers, 2014

Pas de Deux. Photo: Charlie McCullers, 2014

extraordinary.  Nadia Mara was delightful as the Sugar Plum fairy. She was gracious, approachable, and created a youthful Sugar Plum who related well with Marya.  John Welker’s Cavalier was the epitome of the perfect partner: self-effacing, intent on making Sugar Plum look and dance her best, able to save her occasional misstep, and making the pas de deux appear effortless. It takes a superb dancer to dance so well while concentrating on the performance of his partner.