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tempusfugit

Favorite Balanchine Dewdrops

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My favorites -- Calegari and Meunier. Thanks to Oberon for his vivid recollection of Meunier's performance. For my part, I will never forget her ronde des jambes in the air as she went down that diagonal line -- she had more kick in them than any female dancer I've ever seen.

Calegari was just the opposite, thin and diaphanous. That silver costume with its transparent panels seemed to turn her into the picture of an actual dewdrop. And her smile was serene and ethereal -- like a demi-goddess in a renaissance painting.

What a role! The chance to top yourself, over and over, and carry the corps with you.

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Did Merrill Ashley ever dance Dewdrop and does anyone have a recollection of her in the role? She was my first SPF, with Colleen Neary as Dewdrop. Later I saw Heather Watts do it as part of an all-Tchaikovsky evening. I regret that I only started going to lots of NUTCRACKERS seven years ago, so I missed such people as Kirkland and Calegari...

When I first started going to NYCB, Marnee Morris & Colleen Neary were my pet dancers...wish I had seen Marnee dance it!

Margaret Tracey was another dancer who made a nice impression as Dewdrop.

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Did Merrill Ashley ever dance Dewdrop and does anyone have a recollection of her in the role?

I saw Ashley dance the role during one season, on 16 December 1984 and on 6 January 1985, in the years when NYCB performed Nutcracker past New Year's Day. They were vintage Ashley -- clear, precise positions and crisp turns and jumps. After that year, though, I only saw her in a handful of SPF's.

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you can see it at the new york public library though alas it is not available commercially:

Telecast by CBS Television on Playhouse 90 on December 25, 1958. Produced by John Houseman and Jack Landau. Directed by Ralph Nelson. Narrated by June Lockhart.

Choreography: George Balanchine. Music: Peter Tchaikovsky. Scenery: Bob Markell. Costumes: Karinska. Properties: Horace Armistead.

Performed by members of the New York City Ballet and children from the School of American Ballet.

Cast: George Balanchine as Herr Drosselmeyer, Debbie Paine (Clara), Robert Maiorano (Nutcracker prince), Diana Adams (Sugar plum fairy), Allegra Kent (Dewdrop fairy), Arthur Mitchell as Coffee (Arabian dance), Barbara Walczak and Roy Tobias as Chocolate (Spanish dance), Deni Lamont as Tea (Chinese dance), Edward Villella (Candy cane), and Judith Green (Marzipan)

I've just had the chance to watch this. It is especially evocative for me, since my first NYCB Nutcrackers must have included many of these dancers, including both corps and children. Thank you, Mme. Hermine, for posting a cast list. You reminded me, for example, of the excellent Denis Lamont and (something I had forgotten) that Balanchine himself danced Drosselmeyer.

Allegra Kent's Dewdrop is lively, fresh, and very beautiful. She is also dazzling in a surprisingly contemporary sense: sharp, fast, almost dare-devil. In fact, she and Arthur Mitchell (Coffee) are the dancers who would most fit into a major company today.

Four OFF TOPIC points:

1) Edward Villella, in his second season at NYCB, is rather understated and doesn't make much of an impression in this. The bravura and stagecraft that made him a star lie in the future.

2) Diana Adams, a dancer I remember only from a powerful Agon, seems uncomfortable. She smiles a big smile but conveys only a little of the Sugar Plum Fairy's warmth and allure. Technically, as well as dramatically, her work is lackluster and, consisdering her reputation, disappointing.. Certainly when compared with Kent's.

3) Arthur Mitchell is the class act among the men. This is especially evident in the finally, pdd, in which Adams is partnered by four men: Tea, Coffee, Candy Cane, and Chocolate. Balanchine's choreography for the four men, as they weave their way through the complicated partnering, is fascinating. Even more fascinating is the thought of what much of America (especially the still-segregated South with its White Citizens Councils and memories of lynchings) must have thought to see a beautiful white woman partnered by a handsome, shirtless black man -- AND by a Chinese. (Of course, the dancer, Denis Lamont, is not Chinese, but he has been allowed to drop all those silly and stereotyped oriental gestures that he performs in the Tea variation. His partnering role in the pdd is serious and important. In fact, the major share in the partnering is given to Coffee and Tea.)

4) This was an ambitious venture for the early days of color television. So, of course, there were accidents. It's fun watching stagehands and off-stage dancers caught by the cameras in Act II -- especially those who stiuck their heads out from behind a wall and suddenly jumped back out of sight.

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