Jump to content


Nutcracker - 25th anniversary


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,516 posts

Posted 18 November 2008 - 10:19 PM

The first week of casting is up

here

It doesn't identify any debuts, but I'm pretty sure there are a couple.

And Mara Vinson is back, dancing Flora on opening night.

#2 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,516 posts

Posted 26 November 2008 - 02:56 PM

And now week two casting is posted

here

Imler, Gilbreath, Rausch, Lowenberg, and Dec dance Flora, and Nakamura, Korbes, Rausch, and Chapman dance Clara.

#3 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,516 posts

Posted 07 January 2009 - 12:10 PM

I didn't get to any of the Nut this year -- the snow and family schedules got in the way. Did anyone here see the production, and if so, how were they doing?

#4 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 940 posts

Posted 08 January 2009 - 04:17 PM

I didn't get to any of the Nut this year -- the snow and family schedules got in the way. Did anyone here see the production, and if so, how were they doing?

I saw PNB's Nut twice this year: 12/22 and 12/29. To be honest I am not a fan of K Stowell choreography (except sometimes), and there are things about this version that bother me plotwise, but hey, it was Xmas, so what the hey!

I did my normal ho-hum on 12/22. Mara Vinson was Clara, and altho I have nothing against Mara, she has never excited me for whatever reason (it was good to see her back after having her baby). Highlights for me were: Jordan Pacitti who always nails the character roles (Drosselmeier here); Barry Kerollis was impressive as the Sword-Dancer Doll (he's going to be one to watch I think); Kiyon Gaines used his incredibly powerful body to real advantage as the Mouse King; I will be watching Sarah Orza more often now having seen her do the Peacock segment (shouldn't that role be called "Pen-hen"?? :)). But the star of the show that nite for me was Maria Chapman as Flora. I don't put Maria at the top of my stack, but she never disappoints. Given how boring it must be to do the Nut over and over again during this "make the cash" season, I thought she gave sparkle and life to not only this role, but to the entire night. On a disappointing note, I thought Seth Orza struggled with the Prince role. My opinion is that he has genuine potential, but he still needs experience, or practice, or both. I had the feeling that he was forever running to be in the right partnering spot, and to have his hands in the right partnering spot, when partnering Vison's Clara.

Then I went again on 12/29 for one reason, and for one reason only: Leslie Rausch was doing Clara. Since I am Leslie's self-declared number one fan, I had to see her in this. I was not disappointed. I literally had tears down my cheeks watching her thru binoculars in the PdD at the end of Act I. It didn't hurt that her Prince was Batkurel Bold. His sure and clean partnering was in stark contrast to Orza's a week before. I made it a point to look for our new sensation (or so I say) Kyle Davis. I picked him out in the crowd of Moors in Act II -- he continues to strike me as one of the most graceful male dancers I've ever seen. In the coming season, I recommend changing nights if you have to just to see him. I was looking forward to seeing Laura Gilbreath as the Peacock since Laura is taking my eye more and more these days with her long, long body, and talented acting. Somehow her Peacock didn't work for me -- a certain lack of confidence I'd say. I wonder if she's done this role before? It was exhilerating to watch Lin-Yee, Seth Orza, and Tisserand literally having "athletic fun" doing the Dervishes dance. It was all testosterone I thought and superbly entertaining.

I had one big surprise during the 12/29 performance......I warmed up to the choreography! Instead of resisting Stowell's seemingly endless gestures and pantomime, I let myself flow with it. Thru my binoculars, I watched individual couples (fathers and mothers) in Act I instead of the oh-so-familiar "Fritz and his buddies run around with their swords a-waving" action. I found myself won over by Stowell's elegant attention to the details of everyone's movement during the Christmas Ball. After this relevation, I am now looking forward to seeing PNB's Nut again next year (now having given Stowell this chance :D).

#5 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 08 January 2009 - 05:17 PM

Thanks, Sandy, for your detailed report. I have a few questions about the Stowell version: Flora? Peacock? Sword-Dancer? Can you or others familiar with this PNB production translate some of these roles into the more traditional Nutcracker characters? Flora = Dew Drop? Peacock = Arabian? Sword-Dancer = ?

I liked the following a lot:

I had one big surprise during the 12/29 performance......I warmed up to the choreography! Instead of resisting Stowell's seemingly endless gestures and pantomime, I let myself flow with it. Thru my binoculars, I watched individual couples (fathers and mothers) in Act I instead of the oh-so-familiar "Fritz and his buddies run around with their swords a-waving" action. I found myself won over by Stowell's elegant attention to the details of everyone's movement during the Christmas Ball. After this relevation, I am now looking forward to seeing PNB's Nut again next year (now having given Stowell this chance :)).

This is precisely what moved me so much this year about Ballet Florida's version. (It's by Marie Hale, who is, like Stowell seems to have been at PNB, remarkably attentive to h uman details.)

In many ballet party/ball scenes it would be too distracting to allow each dancer -- or couple -- to become individuials, even for a few seconds.. The courtiers in Swan Lake Act I or in Sleeping Beauty are there mainly to fill the room, pay attention to what is going on, and look respectdful and beautiful. But the gemuchlich 19th-century bourgeois world portrayed at the Nutcracker party really requires that each member be allowed a kind of individuality, even if its only in a gesture or a glance.

#6 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,201 posts

Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:30 AM

Many thanks for your report Sandy :) I missed this year's run due to the unexpected snow.

To sneak in and answer bart's question, "Sword Dancer" is the "Soldier Doll" in Act I of Balanchine's version. The Commedia dolls are a Ballerina doll in Stowell's version.

One of the truly beautiful and evil things about Acti I is that Stowell interpolated a "masque" -- three adult dancers who act out the story of Pirlipat, the Mouse King, and the Nutcracker -- dancing to the Pastorale from "Queen of Spades", which is another version of the telling during the overture, there performed by three children. The evil thing about it is that the doll dancers have to stand there in position through it, although guests get to move their limbs iintermittently, and the sword dancer gets to hold his sword at his side, instead of having his arms in low second, like the poor Ballerina doll.

What I love about Stowell's version is its structure: while perfectly understandable as a straight narrative, it is full of repetition that makes its way into dreams. I just wish there wasn't a Pas de Deux to the transformation music, but it's a fine PdD if it has to be there, and Stowell was listening to the music.

In Act II:
Moors dance to Spanish -- I love this one and the costumes are gorgeous
Peacock dances to Arabian
Dervishes dance to Russian
Commedias dance to Pipe Flutes
Flora is like Dewdrop in Waltz of the Flowers

My favorite Lesley Rausch Clara moment came during the storm scene: set on the boat crossing the sea to the Act II overture, when the music gets dark and storm clouds appear on the set, most Clara's get girly and lean on the Prince, but Rausch stood strong and a partner in the journey. It's one of my favorite "Nutcracker" memories, and not a step was danced :D

People came to see Barker in anything for a decade, and their lobby talk is excited in anticipation of Korbes' "Emeralds" or Nadeau's "Symphony in C" or Imler's Odette/Odile or "Corsaire", but Chapman dances, and when you start thinking about it, it's hard to remember who dance dthe role better. Maybe differently, but, in most roles, as well as anyone In that she reminds me of Stephanie Saland in Balanchine roles.

#7 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 940 posts

Posted 09 January 2009 - 04:30 PM

bart,

Helene covered your questions in her usual enlightening style. Sorry, I should have realized that a "legend" would be useful.

I appreciate your compliment. It's interesting how we humans can get trapped in our own "what I know/like". I think your analysis of the additional latitude a choreographer might have in the Nutcracker party scene compared to other situations is very insightful. I hadn't thought of it like that, but now that you say it, I think you are on to something. I was actually quite impressed how much "individuality" (to use your excellent word) there was in all that "background" pantomime and gesture.

PNB is doing Stowell's Swan Lake in April. If I remember, I will let you know if my new found appreciation for this side of Stowell's choreography exhibits itself in that situation.

#8 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 940 posts

Posted 09 January 2009 - 04:44 PM

Many thanks for your report Sandy I missed this year's run due to the unexpected snow.


Come on Helene! What's a little snow to a ballet lover like you :flowers: :D.

You know me......I enjoy walking thru brick walls. I had bought the tickets well in advance and wasn't about to not go. If I remember right, the previous day's performance was cancelled. They said this one was on, so I put the chains on the car, devised the flatest route I could design, and took a "test drive" down to McCaw Hall the nite before just to see if I could make it (I did). But let me tell you, it was still quite an adventure. How all those parents got those kids there from who knows how far away I'll never know. Interestingly, just before the curtain went up a PA announcement was made thanking the audience for doing whatever it took to get there. The audience erupted in applause (each no doubt having their own story that night), but also appauding I think in appreciation for what it took PNB to hold the performance at all (about half the house was empty).

P.S. For you BT'ers that are used to snow in your city, snow of this depth and temps this cold are highly unusual in Seattle. The city basically just stops. We don't use salt and we don't have the equipment to handle that amount of snow. Even many of the buses stopped running -- with many of them simply abandoned in the streets.

#9 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,516 posts

Posted 09 January 2009 - 10:33 PM

bart,
PNB is doing Stowell's Swan Lake in April. If I remember, I will let you know if my new found appreciation for this side of Stowell's choreography exhibits itself in that situation.



Both Francia Russell and Kent Stowell worked on this production, and Russell's contributions (most of the white acts) are pretty authentic. I like it, all told -- there are some moments that make me say "what?," but that's true of almost every production. Stowell has given the principals the space to make their characters legible, and Russell gets lovely performances out of the corps.

[I managed to walk to the store (two blocks in one direction) and to the espresso stand (two blocks in the other direction) during the holiday snows, and that was about it. Went to a cabaret show at the Century Ballroom last Saturday and everyone there was so grateful to be out and around.]

#10 innopac

innopac

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 783 posts

Posted 10 January 2009 - 03:15 AM

In many ballet party/ball scenes it would be too distracting to allow each dancer -- or couple -- to become individuials, even for a few seconds.. The courtiers in Swan Lake Act I or in Sleeping Beauty are there mainly to fill the room, pay attention to what is going on, and look respectdful and beautiful. But the gemuchlich 19th-century bourgeois world portrayed at the Nutcracker party really requires that each member be allowed a kind of individuality, even if its only in a gesture or a glance.


Edward Gorey talked about the party scene in Balanchine's Nutcracker in the book Ascending Peculiarity (p19):

"People say, oh nothing much happens in the first act, but the second act is lovely. For me it's the first act that's so marvelous. It's an aspect of Balanchine's genius that nobody has paid much attention to. That party is one of the most enchanting things ever set on the stage. The relations between the children and the adults, everything--are breathtaking. It's a Platonic party, the essence of every family party--the way it should be and never is, the party that no one has ever attended. Every year it gets a little bit better."



#11 olddude

olddude

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts

Posted 12 February 2009 - 09:48 PM

Many thanks for your report Sandy I missed this year's run due to the unexpected snow.


Come on Helene! What's a little snow to a ballet lover like you :flowers: :D.
...

Darn right!

We had tickets to the 1000th performance, on Christmas eve. Still too much snow to get the car actually into the street, much less drive anywhere - so we walked, it's only 3 or 4 miles. Of course it was uphill and into a fierce wind each way, and I had a bad cold as well! :thumbsup:

We had not seen the show for many years, and were totally delighted - I've learned a lot about ballet in the last decade or two, I guess. The only disappointment was, I had hoped for the annual "goofy" performance, traditionally on Christmas Eve, but apparently because it was the 1000th performance they did it straight. Oh well, guess I'll have to try again next year.

Incidentally, the house was nearly full in spite of the weather.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):