November 2016 Writer / Janelle Morrison IBC is proud to welcome back its guest dancer, the acclaimed principal dancer from the Boston Ballet, Lasha Khozashvili. The company is excited to be celebrating its tenth anniversary and sixth season with Khozashvili performing in IBC’s homage to the artistry of Vasily Vainonen. The original Nutcracker Ballet debuted over 100 years ago in Russia. Produced by IBC Founding Artistic Director, Alyona Yakovleva-Randall, this production is based on the 1934 choreography of Vainonen. Yakovleva-Randall is a highly acclaimed ballet dancer, choreographer and artistic director with a brilliant career of her own that began in St. Petersburg, Russia. “I have been dancing ‘The Nutcracker’ since I was a child,” Yakovleva-Randall said. “I have performed all roles from a Little Mouse to Masha to a Sugar Plum Fairy. These wonderful memories are so dear to my heart and the details that I remember from my experiences are what I wish to share with my students now. It is truly as though I am transferring my memory of ‘The Nutcracker’ to them with each year and each production. I hope that someday they will share their memories with their own students.” Reflecting back on the last decade, Yakovleva-Randall discussed what is unique about the IBC’s production of the holiday favorite, “The Nutcracker,” and what it means to the company and its students to perform with a world-class principal dancer. “It used to be that I would not let our students perform the roles in the Sugar Plum Fairy act because of the high level of skill those roles demand to properly perform the techniques,” she explained. “It was only a few years ago that I began letting the students perform the Sugar Plum Fairy along with one of the world’s most talented dancers in the world right now, Lasha Khozashvili. He is a dear friend and we have a wonderful relationship with him. He brings a level of professionalism to our production and to our students who are eager to learn and work with him. Not every dancer is a good teacher, but Lasha is an excellent teacher who enjoys mentoring and teaching when he’s here with us. He is like a member of our family and we look forward to the artistry and professionalism that he brings during his performance in IBC’s production of ‘The Nutcracker.’” The very first production of IBC’s “The Nutcracker” was performed with a humble cast of its students at the Murat Theatre, ten years ago. Today, it will be performed with an impressive cast of 150 students and will be enjoyed by its patrons at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. “To me performing at the IMA is special because it is one of the best museums in America and to perform here is a privilege,” Yakovleva-Randall expressed. “There is also sentimental meaning for me as well because it was the first stage that I personally performed on in the U.S. I was a guest artist for a performance by Gregory Hancock.” The historical aspect of IBC’s “The Nutcracker” is what sets it apart from other companies’ productions of the same. IBC highlights the best of the human spirit in a little girl who finds love and beauty in a nutcracker doll that no one else wants to play with. That kindness and acceptance transforms the doll into a prince and the girl into princess. “The story teaches the message of love and goodness,” Yakovleva-Randall emphasized. “I think that is why our audience enjoys this production so much, especially during the holidays.” Lasha Khozashvili, the acclaimed principal dancer with Boston Ballet, has been described by The Los Angeles Times as “gorgeous” with “youth, charm, and spontaneity gilding the choreography and making it seem inspired improvisation.” He will be returning to IBC, dancing the role of the Prince alongside IBC’s Professional Training Program students. “This will be my sixth year coming back to Indianapolis to perform this wonderful production of ‘The Nutcracker,’” Khozashvili said. “It feels like I am coming back to my family you see once a year for the holidays. Coming back to be with the IBC has become a tradition for me. Every year, I am performing with new partners and dancers that are students of IBC. I enjoy watching the progression of these students and to see how they are growing with Alyona’s excellent coaching. She does such a great job instructing them and inspires them. She pushes them to be their best because she knows what it takes to achieve the level that they need to be at to become better dancers and to grow. It makes me happy to come back and see how much the students have grown. “Alyona is keeping true to the most traditional version of ‘The Nutcracker’ and for me, the best part was and always will be, being part of something that has been going on for so many years. A dancer must have passion and love to have success in this profession. There is no holding back. My favorite part of performing ‘The Nutcracker’ is the moment when I first step onto the stage with the lights and costumes surrounding me. It is at that exact moment that I become a part of the story.” For information on the performance dates and to purchase tickets, visit www.indianaballetconservatory.org.