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Marie/Clara, Fritz, and the Nutcracker kids

16 posts in this topic

It's always wonderful to see the lead children in Nutcracker productions. I'm talking about Marie/Clara, little brother Fritz, the Nutcracker Prince when he's played by a child, or anyone else in the kid category. I often wonder how these lovely young dancers, who have to be able to dance and to create believable, living characters, will fare in the ballet world as they grow up and meet adult challenges.

Which Nutcracker kids grew up to become major ballet performers? Did you get to see any of them as kids? What did they have then that gave their teachers or the audience clues about the possibility of future achievement?

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Judith Fugate was Marie for literal years! Several generations of future Maries owe their costumes to her, to accommodate her as she grew taller. Jean-Pierre Frölich was her Prince for a couple of those years.

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Peter Boal, Judith Fugate, and Jenny Somogyi danced the Prince and Marie with New York City Ballet, and they are among the few to have trained since children at SAB and risen to Principal Dancer rank with the Company. I would think there would be more children with Paris Opera Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Ballet, and Bolshoi Ballet who did the same, since all of the children taken into the school at age 8 (or so) are expected to have a chance to dance with the Company, unlike at SAB, SFB, PNB, etc., where most of the kids in the pre-professional track are not children who've trained at the school since they were children, but come as adolescents.

Phil Otto, who was a long-time soloist at Pacific Northwest Ballet, danced the Prince with NYCB. I'm pretty sure there was a dancer with Mark Morris Dance Group who danced Fritz when at SAB, and I think his first name is "Max."

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I believe that Elliot Feld was the prince many years ago. Anyone know for sure?

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Yes, Feld as was soloist Robert Maiorano (sp?). Asanelli, Bar, Keenan were all pollies or candy canes.

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Balanchine's first Prince, Paul "Rusty" Nickel, went on to ABT and stage management later.

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Current NYCB corps dancer Rachel Piskin was a Marie.

Judith Fugate and Jean-Pierre Frohlich were partners as Marie and the Prince, as were Katherine Healy and Peter Boal. It was fun, in later years, to see Judy's SPF supported by Peter's Cav., a pairing the company seemed to like to present -- and feature in the Playbill. :clapping:

Chris d'Amboise was a Prince (Kirstein's 25 Years of NYCB has a photo of him kissing the hand of SPF Melissa Hayden). Wasn't Pascale van Kipnis also a Nutcracker kid? I think I remember that Miriam Madhaviani was one.

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Many of the Professional Division kids danced Candy Cane and Polichinelles. Merrill Ashley wrote about having been chosen after she started as SAB, where she entered as a young teenager into the Pre Professional division. Most of the Maries and Princes, though, never make it to the stage as professional dancers; it takes acting and mime skills to play those roles. Even at PNB, the young Claras are the dancers with acting and mime ability, and their friends are almost always better dancers.

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Avichai Scher, who is dancing and doing choreography on the West Coast, was absolutely the best Fritz that I have ever seen at NYCB. He had a fantastic "acting and mime ability" as Helene points out.

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In Gelsey Kirkland's autobiography there's a photo of her as one of the Nutcracker gliding angels.

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And here's a 1964 program from NYCB.

Between the A cast and the B cast, we have as Candy Canes:

Linda Homek (Hamilton), Gelsey Kirkland, Linda Merrill (Merrill Ashley), Colleen Neary, and Nanette Glushak.

And among the many Polichinelles:

Meg Gordon

Looks kind of like a bumper crop to me! :thumbsup:

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Not sure whether it was in Dancing on My Grave or in an interview, but I remember Gelsey recounting how she lost the role of Marie when, in an early rehearsal, she refused to take the hand of the Prince.

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Not sure whether it was in Dancing on My Grave or in an interview, but I remember Gelsey recounting how she lost the role of Marie when, in an early rehearsal, she refused to take the hand of the Prince.

You have the right book, I just reread it. Although "thrilled with the prospect" of dancing Clara, she was "secretly infatuated" with another boy and "stubbornly refused" to hold the hand of one she considered "unworthy." Driven out out of the theater "in tears" by the objecting ballet mistress, she was later given a minor role. For worse and at the same time for better, character is indeed destiny, and that's a wonderful anecdote.

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I believe that Carrie Lee Riggins was another of the Marie's who went on to have a career with the company.

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I was just looking in my performance diary and found:

In 1984-6, Timothy Lynch danced Prince. I think this is the Timothy Lynch who danced with PNB and is now on the school faculty.

In 1987-8, I only note that an "Otto" played Prince. This would have been the youngest one, Eric, who was with ABT, and according to his Metropolitan Opera Ballet bio (he joined in 2007), he was also in "Movin' Out." (When he was still a tennager, he came to Seattle to visit his brother, Phil, who was teaching our adult class. He sure has grown up.)

There was a big trend in the '80's for the kids to put in all three names. Jennie Somogyi was listed as "Jennie Renee Somogyi."

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