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If it's Tuesday, it must be ... Nutcracker


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#1 Manhattnik

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Posted 18 December 2001 - 10:57 PM

OK, here's the skinny on tonight's NYCB Nut.

Sebastien Marcovici and Saskia Beskow were great Stahlbaums. I like the way Marcovici gestures so exansively around the stage -- it's his home, clearly, and he couldn't be happier. And he should keep the moustache.

Daniel Ulbricht was an impressive toy soldier -- he seemed to float in his double tours. But how can a guy have a career when there are no women short enough for him to partner? You can't do Tea, Soldier, 3rd Mvt of Stars and Stripes forever....

Kowroski was much as she's been described already as Sugar Plum. She was rather magisterial with the Angels (didn't look back at them when she led them -- is she practicing to be a wiser Orpheus?) I enjoy her dancing so much these days. Her line is beyond compare, and she's strong enough now so that she can use her hyperextension, instead of being used by it. Even a simple movement, like the little assemble onto pointe she does in her big variation, before posing in a big arabesque, can be breathaking. Stephen Hanna partnered her elegantly and strongly (she must be a handful to partner), and did a nice job motoring through some a la seconde turns in the coda.

I was a bit disappointed by Janie Taylor's Dew Drop, as I'd been looking forward to see her dance with the same "Damn-the-torpedoes" attack that thrilled me so last year. Although there were flashes of that brio, particularly in the way she devoured the stage in that big diagonal of double rondes de jambe en l'air saute and pique arabesques, more often she seemed a bit subdued (well, subdued for her!). And there were a few moments where she seemed even a bit uncomfortable. Anyone can have an off night, and perhaps this night was in the eye of the beholder.

The lead Marzipan Shephardess isn't exactly a dream role, but Pascale van Kipnes turned it to gold (rose gold, of course), as she does just about every role she touches. It's not just that she's strong and musical. She just glows onstage -- the stage loves her the way the camera loves certain women. In a company of joyful women, she's a standout.

Although one might easily assume that, at this stage in his extended career, Kipling Houston might be more adept weilding a walker than a hula hoop (hey, it works in The Producers!), he did acquit himself remarkably well in Candy Canes. Maybe the leaps weren't quite as soaring as they might have been with a younger dancer, but I've seen much younger dancers also fall apart completely in this tricky role.

If there was ever a dancer born to lead Spanish, it's the lovely, dark and Hispanic Pauline Golbin, and didn't she look wonderful? Same for the ever-elegant Jason Fowler, although perhaps his goatee wasn't as successful as her spit curls.

I don't suppose there was every any doubt that Eva Natanya is a beauty among beauties, but her wonderfully restrained yet voluptuous Coffee certainly underscored that fact for me. Not a performance goes by that I thank Balanchine for tossing in this hootchie-kootchie dance as a gift for the (straight) men in the audience.

The Snowflakes, the "other" cast than the one so rightly praised here recently, was wonderful. I was struck as I often am by how much of Balanchine's choreography here (and in Waltz of the Flowers, too) relies on images not of static poses but of frozen or not-so frozen motion. When I think of the Snowflakes, I always imagine them skimming the stage in those big glissades they take so often, or charging across the stage in big chasses en tournant. Motion, not poses! Same for the waltzing flowers.

Anyway, I'm fading.... Anyone else go tonight?

#2 liebs

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Posted 18 December 2001 - 11:56 PM

There are a few other roles for Ulbricht. How about Puck (he'd be more in the Jean Pierre Frolich mode than the Albert Evans one), the Faun in 4 Seasons. And maybe Martins will find a girl for him and maybe he'll grow. Right now, I just enjoy his dancing.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 12:12 AM

Nope, didn't go, Manhattnik, but I certainly enjoyed reading about it smile.gif Off-topic for tonight's casting, but wasn't Beskow supposed to have a solo this year in the divertissements? (I forget which one.) Did anyone see that? She's the only traveling female Dane, so I'd like to know how she's doing.

#4 rkoretzky

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 07:16 AM

Alexandra: I can answer your question. Saskia has been listed in Spanish. This seems an odd bit of casting to me--I have trouble envisioning Saskia's Nordic blonde prettiness in that fiery Spanish dance. To me, the NUT divertissments are so very "nationalistic" in spirit--I depend on looks in those bits as much as I do the dancing. I long for Lourdez Lopez or Stephanie Saland when I think about Spanish--although I'd love to see Pauline or Eva (or my own favorite Jenny Ringer if principals ever do those roles?). I'd like to see Saskia in Marzipan--just my vision.

Haven't been to NYC for any NUTS--I tend to avoid it and save my $$ for lots of Fourth Ring Society tickets. But I do love to hear about it, so keep the reviews coming.

Jenifer and James will be doing a regional NUT in Albany this weekend. I'll be there.

#5 rg

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 08:55 AM

s.beskow made her debut in 'hot chocolate' earlier this season, in fact the debut was noted in the one review anna kisselgoff filed for the TIMES a few weeks ago. s.b's debut was noted, btw, in a most positive way at the review's end. i forget the actual wording.

#6 Manhattnik

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 10:53 AM

RK -- standing-room for Nut is $5, and if you go on a weeknight you can usually grab a seat. Well, on a Tuesday night, anyway. Best entertainment deal in NYC, I say.

I forgot to mention Stuart Capp's Mother Ginger, with his amazing racoon-mask of iridescent green makeup. He camped it up a bit more than Ramasar (the other MG I've seen this year), kissing his reflection in the mirror and treating us to a rendition of "Odette-turning-into-a-swan" ripply arms when he briefly turned his back on us.

As for Kramarevsky's Drosselmeyer, I kept on expecting the Hot-Mustard Fairy to pop out from the wings and give him the slathering his performance so richly deserved.

#7 Michael

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 12:20 PM

Who conducted - Quinn or Fiorato? Andrea Quinn's tempi are so quick that she's five or six minutes shorter in Act I than Hugo is, but I've come to prefer the quicker pace as the drama moves with more impact and the Act II divertiseements also seem to have more punch. What was the tradition in Ballanchine's day, faster or slower?

Taylor also had trouble with Dewdrop at moments on Saturday afternoon. At one point, when she circled the stage with piquee turns before exiting, she got too deep in the rear of the stage and rammed hard into a bit of scenery (one of the candy cane side drops). She looked gorgeous in that costume, however.

I've been thinking about Snow and how the first group of four women are the turners and the next group are the jumpers, flying across the stage in diagonals into big split jumps into the wings. Doing that, this dance almost resembles moments in Harold Lander's Etudes, except Snow has a reason to exist and a meaning dramatically which Etudes lacks, and which renders Snow transcendant. The brief comparison is entirely in favor of Snow.

Like Act II of Giselle, or Kingdom of the Shades, or Act II of La Sylphide, or Act IV of Swan Lake, Snow is where the Women's corps gets to express and portray a romantic, ethereal, dream world, beyond realism, Ballet Blanc Bathed in Blue Light -- which is something that classical dance is so wonderful at, at which I think it's better than any other dramatic art form.

And how about that end, with the corps forming two concave semi circles facing the audience, with the vanishing point in the middle, before slowly borreeing off the stage into each wing.

[ December 19, 2001: Message edited by: Michael1 ]



#8 Manhattnik

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 01:57 PM

Last night it was Fiorato, and, yes, the first act seemed a teeny bit on the dragging side (of course, I went into my "wake me when it's snow" mode).

I recall watching a film made of an old Playhouse 90 broadcast of NYCB's Nut (if you think Janie Taylor's a wild Dew Drop, you should see this very young Allegra Kent!), and being struck at how fast the tempi were. Since it was, I think, a live broadcast, I don't think the pace could've been artificially sped up to "fit" in the alloted time. I was certainly impressed with how quickly everyone danced! Maybe Quinn is just a throwback to the Way Things Used to Be.

#9 rkoretzky

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Posted 19 December 2001 - 02:25 PM

FIVE dollars, Manhattanik? What a deal! looks like I am going to have to try to fit this in between now and the 31st. Thanks for the info.

#10 Ellis

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Posted 22 December 2001 - 10:12 AM

Daniel Ulbricht was always short, but there was always a girl small enough that he could partner, maybe it is just a matter of time........ (I took class with him when we were younger, before he went to NY..... back in good 'ol Florida) smile.gif

#11 Dale

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Posted 22 December 2001 - 10:26 AM

Riggins and Walker might be short enough. And I think he's doing the gigue in Mozartiana. But I believe Manhattnik might have a point.

Ellis, there might have been women short enough for Daniel where he went to school, but NYCB has always featured a lot of tall ballerinas.

[ December 22, 2001: Message edited by: Dale ]



#12 Michael

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Posted 24 December 2001 - 11:14 PM

Ulbricht will also find a lot to dance in the Peter Martins' repertory. He was cast last year in pieces like Fearful Symmetries and Harmonielehre. I can also see him doing Prodigal Son some day. He's immensely talented, a dancer of explosive force and power but one who is also surprisingly clean. Where other dancers tend to slur things together -- for example the pas de chats that the lead Candy Cane does (among other quick shifts) inside the hoop in Act II Nutcracker -- he always shows every position, no matter how brief the time available, as something distinct. I think him so talented in fact that he will crack the categories. (While I remain at the same time unsure if cracking the categories is entirely a good thing).

[ December 24, 2001: Message edited by: Michael1 ]



#13 Ellis

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Posted 27 December 2001 - 12:27 PM

I definetly agree, we've all known from the start he would make it, I can't wait to get up to NY again to see my old ballet friends, since two other girls from this area were just made apprentices.

#14 sneds

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Posted 27 December 2001 - 09:36 PM

Hi!
Ulbricht is debuting in both "Mozartiana" and "Four Seasons" (fall, I think)a week from Saturday, so it looks like there are more than a few roles for him in the NYCB rep. I'm thinking about driving round trip from PA for the Saturday night performance-seeing Ulbricht and Woetzel in Four Seasons, which I've never seen, is reason enough to endure the drive and train ride!
Kate


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