------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 11/28/2017 Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Lowell, MA Though we toured the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow earlier this year, we did not have the opportunity to attend a ballet performance. So we jumped at the chance to see a Russian company perform the beloved Nutcracker. Our ticket package included a backstage tour, which was quite enjoyable. Tour manager Nicolas greeted us and brought us backstage. We met dancers Yuriy Kuzo and Mykhailo Shcherbakov, both from Kiev. Mykhailo donned his nutcracker mask and posed for photos with us. We met costume designer Arthur Oliver, who proudly showed off the three-headed Rat King costume, with its glowing red eyes. He told us that all of the costumes are made in St. Petersburg. When we saw all of the bright, beautiful, sparkling costumes during the performance against the amazing set backdrops, it called to mind the opulence of czarist Russia With just five minutes until curtain, Nicolas concluded the tour and we went to our seats. It had been a lovely experience. The performance was amazing. It was a very intimate performance and it felt quite personal. It was fun to see Yuriy and Mykhailo onstage after chatting with them before the show. They had both mentioned how ballet is their passion, and it showed! The choreography was unique. The second act begins with the Dove of Peace. The dove is created by a male dancer and a female dancer. Each has a feathered wing attached to one arm. Their synchronized movements create the illusion of a dove. The dancers exhibit both grace and strength. Another highlight was the Arabian variation. The choreography between the male and female dancer almost looked like partner yoga at times, with them displaying amazing strength and flexibility.