It was a joyous opening night at Texas Ballet Theater. I’m not sure who was more thrilled to be at Bass Performance Hall: the performers, who radiated enthusiasm from the stage, or the audience, who cheered just about every three minutes. Seeing Texas Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker is one of my favorite holiday traditions. After a nineteen month hiatus, TBT has returned to bring us all our favorite holiday show.
Masks and vaccination cards are required at Bass Hall. Personally I’m happy to mask up to support the arts. The past nearly two years I’ve dreamed about returning to my beloved Bass Performance Hall, which is located in downtown Fort Worth. If you’ve never been to Bass Hall or downtown FW, you’re in for a treat. I lived in Fort Worth for nine years and still miss it terribly. Even though Texas Ballet Theater first had a run in Dallas, I merrily drove out to my former stomping grounds just to drink in the beauty of Bass Hall.
My friend Caitlin and I met for dinner at Reata Restaurant first, a staple of downtown Fort Worth. We split the beefiest calamari, enjoyed some champagne with dinner (crispy citrus chicken for me, salmon for her), and a dark chocolate bread pudding tamale for dessert. Delicious! We then walked the couple of blocks to Bass Hall, enjoying the festive Sundance Square on our way over.
I so love how Texas Ballet Theater starts at 8 pm – plenty of time to enjoy dinner, take some photos in the lobby, and even shop for an ornament. The Nutcracker, choreographed by TBT Artistic Director Ben Stevenson, is TBT’s first full-scale production since the pandemic began. (Last year TBT offered a wonderful virtual production, which I of course made a whole evening out of. You can read about that here.) It’s clear to me that the company was ecstatic to be back on stage. This was truly one of the best performances of The Nutcracker I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen the show many, many times.
Our Clara was a joy to watch. Remember the name Rieko Hatato, because she’s about to take the dance world by storm. Jiyan Dai was our Nutcracker Prince and what a talent he is! Whenever he danced with anyone, it’s like they were one unit, Jiyan melding perfect into his partner with every dance with precision and grace. I particularly enjoyed the Arabian Dance this dance, with show-stopping moves by Amanda Fairweather and Riley Moyano.
The entire cast was energetic, passionate, and in practically perfect form. Brava to Texas Ballet Theater for returning with such flourish! The night was made even better by snow in Bass Hall at intermission and a big snow storm outside the hall after the show. That’s right, Bass Hall projected snow right outside the doors. What more could a Texan want from a holiday show?
The Nutcracker runs through December 26th and is not to be missed! Tickets start at $25. Patrons can purchase tickets online at texasballettheater.org.