January 14, 2019  |  By NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet



Dance students learn to fold origami Doves of Peace.


Sasha Obama danced with Moscow Ballet in 2012 as a Snow Maiden.

The Dove of Peace Tour of the Great Russian Nutcracker closed out its 2018 season on December 30 with performances in Augusta, GA; Chattanooga, TN and McAllen, TX. The tour grew dramatically, bringing the beloved Christmas tale to audiences in 137 cities across the United States and Canada in both November and December. Below are some highlights from this year’s tour.

Moscow Ballet featured in Michelle Obama’s book – One of the most significant happenings in the 2018 season came in the form of a mention in Michelle Obama’s top-selling book Becoming. In the memoir, the former first lady describes the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012. That same day, her daughter, Sasha, performed in the Great Russian Nutcracker, as a member of the youth cast through Moscow Ballet’s Dance with Us program. Ms. Obama recalls the gratitude she felt for her daughter on what she says was the darkest day she and her husband faced while in office stating, “My eyes never left her. My whole being was grateful for her. Sasha stood bright-eyed on stage, looking at first like she couldn’t believe where she was, as if she found the whole scene dazzling andunreal.”


Michelle Obama’s book ‘Becoming’

“It was nearly Christmas, and Sasha was among a group of local children selected to join the Moscow Ballet for two performances of The Nutcracker, both happening on the same day as the vigil in Newtown. Barack managed to slip into a back row and watch the dress rehearsal before leaving for Connecticut. I went to the evening show. 

The ballet was as beautiful and otherworldly as any recounting of that story ever is, with its prince in a moonlit forest and its swirling pageantry of sweets. Sasha played a mouse, dressed in a black leotard with fuzzy ears and a tail, performing her part while an ornate sleigh drifted through the swelling orchestral music and showers of glittering fake snow. My eyes never left her. My whole being was grateful for her. Sasha stood bright-eyed on stage, looking at first like she couldn’t believe where she was, as if she found the whole scene dazzling and unreal. Which of course it was. But she was young enough still that she could give herself over to it, at least for the moment, allowing herself to move through this heaven where nobody spoke and everyone danced, and a holiday was always just about to arrive.” 

Verbatim from “Becoming” by former First Lady Michelle Obama

Spreading the message of peace to N. America’s youth: – For over 25 years, Moscow Ballet has been dedicated to spreading its mission of world peace through dance and community engagement. In Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker the second act does not take place in the “Land of Sweets” but rather Masha and the Nutcracker Prince are guided by the exclusive Dove of Peace role to the “Land of Peace and Harmony.” Every year, Moscow Ballet auditions and casts thousands of children via the “Dance-with-Us” Program. During auditions, the audition directors relayed MB’s message of peace to the children and taught them how to make origami doves as an outward expression of this message. Images of the children with their doves were captured and made into a commemorative book. The images were then turned into a mosaic depicting the Dove of Peace character, symbolizing the way we all can come together to spread this message of peace throughout the world.


Students in Albuquerque pose with their doves


Pictures of children with their origami doves create a Dove of Peace mosaic

Bringing the magic of the ballet to deserving children – Six children from Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI were treated to a night of ballet by their radiation oncologist, Dr. Peter Chen. All children are cancer patients or survivors. In an interview with Fox 2, Dr. Chen said every year he tries to “get an event for the children with cancer to celebrate life after treatment.” This year, he chose the Great Russian Nutcracker to uplift spirits during the holidays. Moscow Ballet is honored to have been selected as his special gift to these kids and we hope the beauty and magic of the performance transported them to a new world where they could forget about the hardships of life, if even for a night.

The 2018 season will be hard to top, but Moscow Ballet is looking forward to dazzling audiences in the new year and continuing its mission of peace and harmony throughout the 2019 season. Help spread Moscow Ballet’s message next season by taking part in the community engagement programs offered. Click here to find out what Moscow Ballet can bring to your city.