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Lifestyle

Christmas is not the same without ‘The Nutcracker’

ART DE VIVRE - Ricky Toledo, Chito Vijandre - The Philippine Star
Christmas is not the same without âThe Nutcrackerâ
From left) Alabang Town Center marketing head Arrianne Nadurata, associate choreographer Pamela Espejo, Pandora Philippines brand head Tricie Legarda, Lucerne managing director Ivan Yao, Steps founder Sofia Zobel Elizalde, Ayala Malls president Christopher Maglanoc, choreographer Jeffrey Espejo, Ayala Malls Consumer Marketing head Tintin Enriquez-Yabao, and Ayala Malls Corporate Marketing Iyah Generoso with the ballet dancers of Steps who will tour Ayala Malls with The Nutcracker.

If there’s one gift that we will value the most this Christmas, it’s the gift of togetherness — the face-to-face variety, not the virtual one that we had for the past two years.

“Now that we are able to spend the Yuletide season more freely, we want to encourage sweet reunions with the family. Nothing beats seeing friends and loved ones in person and in the same atmosphere,” says Ayala Malls president Christopher Maglanoc.

This Christmas will usher in a new era: Finally, children can hug their grandparents without hesitation, lovers can walk hand-in-hand, and barkadas can dine without those acrylic dividers. Shared experiences are what make Christmas special. Realizing that these get-togethers are even more precious after the pandemic, a host of exciting activities have been lined up at Ayala Malls so that there are more opportunities to reunite, enjoy and celebrate the holidays.

And what could be more festive than The Nutcracker ballet with its heartwarming melodies of magic, fantasy, mystery and love, as dancers bring to life the story of Clara, who is given a nutcracker doll by her ninong on Christmas Eve and dreams that it turns into a prince who leads toy soldiers to defend her against the army of the Mouse King?  He then takes her to dazzling kingdoms of snowflakes and sweets.

“Christmas is not the same without The Nutcracker,” said Sofia Zobel-Elizalde, director of Steps Dance Studio, which recently presented a preview of the delightful ballet that will be touring the malls. “It was something I grew up with since both my father and I share the love of ballet. Every little girl dreams of being Clara. All over the world, they play Nutcracker at Christmas.  It’s a tradition to bring children, grandchildren, lolos and lolas to see it.”

Steps dancers performing The Nutcracker ballet for Christmas at Ayala Malls.

Maglanoc fondly recalls how it was presented at Ayala Malls in the past “so it’s interesting how it will play this time around.”

For one thing, the dancers alternating as Clara — Adia Luise Miguel and Annika Angeline Browne — are both gold-medal winners at the Asian Grand Prix dance competitions.  The other soloists and the corps are also top students of Steps, which has been known for its scholarships given to the most talented, many of whom have won competitions as well and made names for themselves in professional dance and theater companies locally and internationally.

True enough, aside from Adia, the other dancers showed precision and grace and performed wonderfully together as an ensemble during the preview.  What also distinguishes this edition is the beautiful costumes designed by Gino Gonzales, bringing even more enchantment to the Arabian, Spanish and Chinese suites.

Another feature to look forward to is the performance of the Mandaluyong Children’s Choir in Manila and the Loboc Children’s Choir in Cebu to complete the yuletide vibes with their angelic voices. There will also be Nutcracker-themed fairs from November to December in cooperation with partner merchants. Delicious treats to try and savor will be abundant, reuniting fellow chocoholics, coffee lovers, sweet tooths and milk tea fanatics. It’s a perfect time to shop for gifts to bring for upcoming Christmas parties with family and friends.

And what would a Nutcracker Christmas be without jewels and Christmas trees, thanks to a partnership with Pandora that will transport audiences to a universe of imagination and splendor, fascinating the mind and awakening the inner child of all? The theme perfectly aligns with the brand’s aim of spreading the message of togetherness, kindness and love — qualities that inspired the brand’s Christmas jewelry collection:  Star and snowflake motifs that symbolize beauty and hope and a new range of holiday-inspired designs from reindeer to gingerbread houses and of course, nutcracker charms.

These charms will embellish two lavish Christmas trees that will make the Nutcracker presentation even more festive — one onstage and another in a pop-up photo booth area. It’s also a way of bringing luxury to the festivity in an opulent and inclusive manner, encouraging guests to take their traditional family photos with the glimmering trees in the background.

It’s really about spending quality time with loved ones and rediscovering what makes Christmas truly amazing.  “The Nutcracker is the perfect family event,” says Sofia. “Amid its imaginative setting is a tender story of a young girl’s dream of harmony, beauty and the magic of Christmas. All of which, likewise, characterize the special moments in real life we all hold dear. They make life sweeter.”

The classic tale will surely tug the heartstrings of those who have missed the Christmas we once knew and can make them look forward to bringing that spirit back.

The Nutcracker will spread holiday cheer across eight malls from November to December: Nov. 18 to 20 at Greenbelt, Nov. 26 at TriNoma, Dec. 3 at UP Town Center, Dec. 4 at Ayala Malls Circuit, Dec. 10 at Ayala Center Cebu, Dec. 11 at Alabang Town Center, Dec. 17 at Ayala Malls Manila Bay and Dec. 18 at Glorietta.

The Chinese Suite in The Nutcracker ballet.

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For updates, follow @AyalaMalls360 on Facebook and @iloveayalamalls on Instagram. Follow the authors on Instagram @rickytchitov; Twitter @RickyToledo23; Facebook - Ricky Toledo Chito Vijandre

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