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MCB Nutcracker


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#1 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 24 November 2007 - 08:12 PM

I am not a ballet expert (although I have seen 100+ Nutcrackers), so I shall reserve the critique to others. Today, I saw both the 2pm and 8pm Naples performances. I do feel that Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra were outstanding in the rolls of Sugar Plum and Cavalier in the afternoon. As usual, the entire company provided great performances. Both received standing ovations from the packed houses. Daniel Baker was also a noteable in Candy Canes.

The Phil in Naples is a rather small stage (almost too small for the MCB Nut production). It would be great to hear about other venues as I cannot attend those.

#2 bart

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 11:14 AM

Thanks, Iwatchthecorps, for starting this thread. I don't think we've had an MCB Nutcracker thread before.

I'd love to get your thoughts about the production, which I haven't seen in several years. How is it looking? On the Kravis stage the sets, and especially the big ensembles, do seem a bit squished, although that's not a particularly small stage.

Did they bring their orchestra -- Opus One -- along?

Did anyone else see it in Naples? If you're planning to see this at one of the other three cities, please post your comments on this thread.

Coming up:

West Palm Beach (Kravis Center):
Sat. Dec. 1: 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sun Dec. 2: 2pm

They do a short run in West Palm because the Ballet Florida production, a big local favorite, has 9 performances later in the month, also at the Kravis.

Miami (Carnival Center):
Fri. Dec. 14: 7:30 pm
Sat. Dec. 15: 2pm and 7:30 pm
Sund. Dec. 16: 2pm and 7:30 pm

Fort Lauderdale (Broward Center):
Fri. Dec. 21: 7:30 pm
Sat. Dec. 22: 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sun. Dec. 23: 2pm and 7:30 pm

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 10:15 PM

They do a short run in West Palm because the Ballet Florida production, a big local favorite, has 9 performances later in the month, also at the Kravis.


Great news. I've heard great things about this company. This is what "the Palm Beach Post" has to say about their production...

[font="Comic Sans MS"][size=2]"The Nutcracker as choreographed by Marie Hale and produced by Ballet Florida is acclaimed as one of South Florida's most spectacular holiday family traditions."[/size][/font]

The Palm Beach Post
http://www.palmbeach...;eventid=102464

#4 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 03:32 PM

A review of Saturday evening's performance can be found at NaplesNews

"Everyone in Saturday night’s performance poured in their own hearts and souls as well. This “Nutcracker” was a model for all others."

For some Nutcracker background, please see The Child in Balanchine Still Jumps for Joy

#5 bart

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:48 PM

Thanks for that link, iwatchthecorps. I'm glad Jeanette Delgado -- who, for some reason, was withdrawn from her various Jewels roles last weekend -- was in jumping form for the Marzipan Shepardess. And it's nice to see Danile Baker singled out by the reviewer, as he was by you. He's fun to watch in just about everything I've seen. In I wonder what was going on with the conductor and the too-fast tempi? Or is it just that this reviewer likes to savor her ballet very s-l-o-w-l-y?

#6 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 09:25 PM

I think that there is a great reason to attend MCB Nut in West Palm, Ft. Lauderdale, Carnival, and Clearwater.

After reviewing the casting for three performances in Naples, it appears that MCB gives some opportunities for younger dancers to shine. The future stars can be seen in these Nutcrackers getting their big chance.

#7 iwatchthecorps

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Posted 30 November 2007 - 06:50 AM

Ballet inspires holiday spirit
"Faux snow floated down as 16 dancers in sparkling tutus swirled across the stage in an graceful flurry of white and ice blue. The person sitting next to me at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples gaped, grinned and glowed in the spell of snowflakes come to life."

#8 bart

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 08:25 PM

Just back from the Saturday evening performance at the Kravis Center. There was no orchestra, which was a downer But the recording was brisk and beautifully played, and the dancing more than made up for it.

My first Nutcracker was Balanchine's in '57 or '58 but I remember little of it except for a blur of exciting dancing in Act II -- and one unforgettable detail, the rising, trembling Christmas tree. After that, I checked in on NYCB's various stagings once every couple of years, but can't say that I was a big fan, excepet for some of the extraordinary dancing.

MCBs's --which I"ve seen only once before -- is visually very attractive, and Haydee Morales costumes are more than that -- they are truly splendid splendid. The soft, multilayered skirts (shades of pink and magenta) for the Flowers are the most beautiful flower costumes I've ever seen. The Mouse King (one large head, not numerous small ones) is both glamourous and frightening.

There were cast changes announced this evening -- all of them in the right direction. Among the substitutions, Haiyan Wu was a wonderful, sinuouus Coffee. Andrea Spiridonakis and Isanusi Garcia-Rodrigues (he was also the Mouse King) were stylish and danced with abandon in Hot Chocolate. And Rolando Sarabia stepping in as the Sugar Plum Cavalier was .... well more of that later. (Hint: :bow: )

In other roles, the very young Hikaru Ishikura was an appealing Fritz (he has a great sense of timing) and Serena Tovar Otis a sweet and plucky Marie. Gustavo Candelas as the Nephew/Nutcracker was remarkable for one so young: a true petit prince (carefully pointed feet, noble carriage, with mature positioning of the head and hands) and a most attentive cavalier to Marie. Candelas' mime in Act II was full of detail and was beautifully done. More than that, he suggested that he believed completely in the communicative power of every gesture-- something that a lot of adult dancers never manage to suggest when performing extended bits of mime.

Jeremy Cox's Drosselmeyer was elegant, witty, slightly foppish, very much in control. More llike Cagliostro than Sarastro. Alex Wong's Candy Cane was a perfect minature of light, apparently effortless, amazing dancing..

For some reason the sweeping patterns made by the the corps struck me very much this time around. The dancing was precise -- the spirit was joyful and totally committed. Snowflakes and especially the Flowers were just what the music intends them to be. I'm really impressed at the artistry that I'm starting to see from the very young MCB corps over the past few years.

Best of all was the developing partnership of Mary Carmen Catoya and Rolando Sarabia. The ballerinas of MCB have not had a partner like Sarabia in the 7 years I've been watching the company. I guess it's his Cuban training, but he seems to bring out qualities in Catoya -- and in Deanna Seay as well, in Diamonds a few weeks ago -- that I've never seen before. Catoya, always a wonderful technician, gains an exciting kind of vitality when paired with Sarabia. She takes risks, turns faster, balances more dramatically, rushes forward recklessly before leaping up to his shoulder, etc. The balance on pointe in arabesque while she is being slid across the floor was stunning. I stopped breathing when she released her hand and remained motionless in balance for several bars of music. This was thrilling dancing. Catoya's Sugar Plum was a Fairy in her opening variation at the start of Actd II, but she became an Empress by the end.

As for Sarabia, there were the same qualities of power clothed in lightness and elegance that I saw for the first time in Diamonds -- the same soft, perfect landings -- the same beautiful and manly port de bras. Just watch something so simple as Sarabia waving goodbye to Marie and the Nutcracker Prince as they fly away at the end of the ballet and you'll see what I mean. Cristian, you were right.

Jazzie135, were you there tonight as you said you might be? Coming up: Fort Lauderdale and Miami. I'm looking forward to other comments. Please!

#9 Helene

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Posted 01 December 2007 - 08:41 PM

Many thanks for your review, bart!

Sarabia sounds wonderful. It's wonderful to see the ballerinas bloom when they have an expert partner.

#10 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 02 December 2007 - 08:01 PM

Best of all was the developing partnership of Mary Carmen Catoya and Rolando Sarabia. The ballerinas of MCB have not had a partner like Sarabia in the 7 years I've been watching the company. I guess it's his Cuban training, but he seems to bring out qualities in Catoya -- and in Deanna Seay as well, in Diamonds a few weeks ago -- that I've never seen before. Catoya, always a wonderful technician, gains an exciting kind of vitality when paired with Sarabia. She takes risks, turns faster, balances more dramatically, rushes forward recklessly before leaping up to his shoulder, etc. The balance on pointe in arabesque while she is being slid across the floor was stunning. I stopped breathing when she released her hand and remained motionless in balance for several bars of music. This was thrilling dancing. Catoya's Sugar Plum was a Fairy in her opening variation at the start of Actd II, but she became an Empress by the end.

As for Sarabia, there were the same qualities of power clothed in lightness and elegance that I saw for the first time in Diamonds -- the same soft, perfect landings -- the same beautiful and manly port de bras. Just watch something so simple as Sarabia waving goodbye to Marie and the Nutcracker Prince as they fly away at the end of the ballet and you'll see what I mean. Cristian, you were right.

Wow...this is getting better. I haven't seen the MCB's nutcracker in a couple of years, not being a big fan, as i have stated before, of the B. choreography. But i'll go this season for sure, just to see the Catoya/Sarabita duo. It's going to be very special in a personal way. :jawdrop: Before leaving Cuba in 2001, i made my last trip to the Lorca Theater in La Habana to attend my last ballet performance ever in the homeland. That night NBC was performing "Nutcracker" in its Alonso staged Fokine/Fedorova version. The "SPF PDD" was amazingly danced by a young and powerful Rolando Sarabia and a stunningly precise Lorna Feijoo. I still have vivid memories of the PDD swooning Adagio's climax, when at the end Sarabita rocked the arched Feijoo like a pendulum, the back of her head almost sweeping the floor. :) (Divine Fokine! :bow: )
I'll be reporting back.

Cristian, you were right.

Amen, bart :wink:

#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 December 2007 - 01:12 AM

I'd love to get thoughts about the production, which I haven't seen in several years. How is it looking? If you're planning to see this at one of the other three cities, please post your comments on this thread.
Coming up:

West Palm Beach (Kravis Center):
Sat. Dec. 1: 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sun Dec. 2: 2pm

They do a short run in West Palm because the Ballet Florida production, a big local favorite, has 9 performances later in the month, also at the Kravis.

Miami (Carnival Center):
Fri. Dec. 14: 7:30 pm
Sat. Dec. 15: 2pm and 7:30 pm
Sund. Dec. 16: 2pm and 7:30 pm

Fort Lauderdale (Broward Center):
Fri. Dec. 21: 7:30 pm
Sat. Dec. 22: 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sun. Dec. 23: 2pm and 7:30 pm

Saturday Dec. 15 Carnival Center, Miami.
2 pm and 7:30 pm


Sat. Dec 14/07
Ok, so i'm just back from the second night of the Nutcracker at the Carnival Center, Miami. Actually, i must confess that , as i work until 7:30 pm, i knew i wasn't going to make it thru the horrible Miamian traffic to get in time to Downtown, so i decided just to get in after the intermission (i know, i missed all the I Act little kids party.. :cool: )
Oh, but first,as a reminder, i would like to quote myself on the following:

First of all, i want to excuse myself to the Balanchine experts BT'rs for not being super knowledgable on the master's works. In Cuba my only contact with the Balanchine works was reduced to "Theme and Variations" and "Apollo" basically.


The production/choreography

Now, i can really start my post which is going to be brief . Wow, I'm really sorry to keep repeating about how dissapointed i am with this Nutcracker production, and with the generalized Christmas cliche in which this imperial masterwork has morphed..
Act I
As i said before, i didn't get to see it this time, (no big deal, since i'm aware of Balanchine's omission of the Snow PDD, one of my big reasons to go see this ballet , and I know, Mel, that Pavlova and Clustine have been dead for a while now, but still, i miss that version and the PDD. :(
Act II
Now, this is what really upsets me. I read somewhere that the Balanchine version has become the "standard" for the staging of the ballet in America, and it's been praised several times for conserving the little kid's battle mime. Ok, that's all fine, but then, my very big question, which always seems to be left without an answer is: why the new generations of balletgoers for which this "standard' version will be the first one, (and probably the only one ) they'll ever see live onstage have to be deprived of the complete original sequence of one of the most beautiful PDD ever created by Tchaikowsky/Petipa, the SPFPDD...?. I'm sorry, but I'll never understand this truncated version in which theSugar Plum Fairy's celesta variation is moved from its original place following the Adagio at almost the end of Act II to near the beginning just after she makes her first appearance. To keep on with the oddities, then the Cavalier's variation, the beautiful tarantella that comes right after is also cut!, erased!!...adios!!! :) So we are basically left with the Adagio and the Coda !. Oh,well, at least is not Baryshnikov's version, which totally omits the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and gives their dances to Clara in a nightgown and the Prince.. God, One of this days we'll have Mother Commedia dancing the female variation!
Then there's the issue with the Russian Dance, (or Trepak, as i knew it back in Cuba) Watching the Trepak I could always noted the excitement, athletic display and importance given to folk dances in ballet productions back in the imperial days. According to some literature Tchaikovsky was inspired by the Russian Trepak, a dance with Cossak origins, typically performed by men wearing high black boots and features "prisiadka" -(had to look for the right spelling of the word)- which is the kicking of the legs from a squatting position and some grand ecartes too at the end...Tchaikovsky's Trepak is one of the most recognized examples of art music from the ballet, and then, what do we have instead...? some candy canes...
Oh!, and what about the so called Drewdrop.character..Who is she...? what's going on with her...?..What's her story? She seems to be a little out of place.
The Dancers: Highlights ;
1-Jeanette Delgado as the Marzipan Sheperdess . :bow: Great technique, beautiful feet, killer smile, excelent extensions and great sense of joy while onstage.
2-Deanna Seay as the SPF. Regal and glamorous. Very elegant, with beautiful lines, elongated arabesques and precise balances...
3-The dancer that substitued Daniel Baker in the Chinesse Dance, (can't remember his name now) Excelent. He performed some Grand Ecartes/Russian Jumps that were breathtaken.
4- Finally, I must confess the real reason that moved me to go see the Second Act tonight : to whistle and scream "Bravos" to Sarabita :P which has always been my idol , dancing the SPF Cavalier , . It's true, he's getting stockier, and he's not using his old signature anymore, those final open wide ronde de jambes after his multiple pirouettes, which are not as superfast as they used to be....But we have to remember that he's been suffering from knee problems and surgeries in the past . Still, Bravo for him!!
The corps were manificent
The flying device carrying Marie and the little Prince at the end always reminds me of a Las Vegas act. And then, no waking up for Marie to realize that it was all a dream, which i think makes way more sense as an ending...

Did they bring their orchestra ?

No bart, they didn't


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