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The Nutcracker


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 08:44 AM

I went to the Nutcracker performances at the Arsht Center on Friday and Saturday. I should report that for the very first time the ballet "got" me...A perfect casting: Kronemberg and Guerra as the SPF/Cavalier, Wong in the Chinese Dance, Baker as the candy cane and Jeannette Delgado as Dewdrop...
It just couldn't get any better. It was so beautiful...

#2 bart

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 09:41 AM

We drove down to Miami for the Saturday matinee. (MCB has completed their Naples and Fort Lauderdale performances, and will be at the Arsht Center in Miami until the 23rd.)

The Balanchine Nutcracker is the one I grew up with. Over the years, the story elements seem less magical to me, but the choreography seems more so: inventive, complex, beautiful to look at.

Our Sugarplum and Cavalier were Jeanette Delgado and Rolando Sarabia. I have loved Kronenberg's SPF in the past: generous, plush, warm, regal. But nothing prepared me for just how ravishing Jeanette Delgado has become in this role. And, where Delgado leads, Sarabia now seems quite willing to follow. His Cavalier was strong, glowing, beautifully danced. The ovation, from an audience packed with kids, parents, grandparents, amounted to a roar.

Delgado gives a finish to every move. I love the connection between her upper and lower body. I love the way she inhabits the music. Her big smile, always genuine but not always uner control in the past, has become a nuanced instrument. From her first entrance, I had the feeling: this dancer has become a Star. (I mean the kind of Star who, far from sucking energy away from others on stage, gives energy to the entire scene.) Sarabia, a star in Havana before his defection, has now reclaimed that status in Miami. The confidence, fluidity, and bravura of those jumping lifts to the shoulder were thrilling. We were sitting in a First Tier box not far from the stage, so we could see everything. Everything in both dancers' performances was right.

The production is looking good, as is the cast. Better than I recall from a couple of years ago. Driving home, I found myself wishing for the miracle of an instant-replay. Among may favorite parts of the performance, in addition to Delgado and Sarabia:

-- Patricia Delgado danced a warm and beautiful Frau Stahlbaum. Later she returned as one of the best Coffees I can recall. She made the eastern elements Balanchine's choreography clear and memorable, but never sank into pseudo orientalism. (She does play a mean set of finger cymbals, however.)

-- Carlos Guerra's Drosselmeier. Unrecognizable beneath the wig and makeup, funny without losing his mystery, elegant without losing his comic qualities. Not ominous, but always just a little bit dangerous.

-- Didier Bramaz's Soldier: every movement sharp and clearly etched. I loved those entrechats with the flexed feet, as quick as hummingbird wings.

-- All the Snowflakes. Each dancer made Balanchine's choreography beautifully clear, without losing the larger feeling of the ensemble. (Being used to Ballet Florida's version, I just wish they concluded with MORE SNOW.)

-- All the Flowers, led by Callie Manning and Amanda Weingarten. In many ways, this was the highlight of the peformance for me (not counting the pas de deux).

It was wonderful to see all those remarkably poised and well-schooled children. Mariana Kellogg (Marie) and Jonah Couzzi (the Prince) were charming and performed like real pros. The tiny Polichinelles, however, stole the show for me. They had real grown-up choreography and danced it with style, accuracy, and charm.

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 11:50 PM

I totally agree with all your praising, bart. Honestly, if Alonso/Fedorova version gets me to the analytical point in terms of dancing and choreography, what I felt yesterday was different. I was literally being transported to a MAGICAL world...a dream-like place where beauty reigns. I didn't even got annoyed this time by the crazy bed patterns or the children, something that I couldn't cope with too well in the past. I don't know if it is because the kids parts were PERFECTLY REHEARSED or else, but I was loving every second of the whole thing. And then, when the Nutcracker shows up onstage walking sideways to suddenly been stripped down of his garment and mask to triumphantly reveals himself as the little prince...well, I was literally moved to tears. :sweatingbullets: Am I becoming a teary old guy...? :devil:
I CAN'T BELIEVE I missed Jeanette and Sarabita in the PDD. But to tell you the truth, Kronemberg and Guerra were just PERFECTION. Kronemberg looked so regal and feminine...every gesture done with such delicacy....and Guerra was so gallant with her...and they are so beautiful to watch that they really looked like a pair of vintage porcelain figurines. Baker as the Peppermint Stick was amazing. He has danced the part for some seasons now, and he's just as athletic as the role demands. He got lots of applauses. Wong, well...in between his never ending elevation and out of this world ballon, he made the audience gasp during his Chinese sequence. His Asian features made him even more believable for the role. Tricia Albertson's characteristic restrained demeanor wasn't a shocker this time, for which her role was the leading dancer of the Marzipan's Merlitons. Jeanette Delgado was FIRE as Dew Drop, along with the VERY ENERGETIC Corps of flowers in the Waltz. This year the piece looked grand, passionate, no trace whatsoever of any subtleness. We don't need that.
And then...a special acknowledgment for the Corps during the Snow Scene. They were MAGNIFICENT!!!
To each and every member of this company, CONGRATULATIONS FOR THE GREAT JOB!!! :wallbash:

#4 bart

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 04:50 AM

Cristian, I can't tell you how happy I am that you loved the Balanchine version. Daniel Baker was replaced as Soldlier and Tea on Sunday, and I was sorry I missed him. I didn't mention Wong, whose candy cane did have the most weightless ballon. It's such a short segment and is usually over just as I begin to appreciate the the dancing.

I should also have mentioned Albertson, who was Dewdrop on Sunday. Her's was a rather restrained performance, technically quite good, but giving the impression of being under-powered given the swirling red dresses of the flowers and their wonderful choreography. Dewdrop should dominate. I can imagine J. Delgado in the role. But I can also imagine Albertson, if she would just add a bit more energy and finish to her excellent technique. When she has done that, in other performances, she's first-rate.

It looks like MCB -- with J. Delgado/ R. Sarabia, Kronenberg/Guerra, and Catoya/Penteado -- now has several beautifully matched partnerships. Should be lots of fun for multiple performances of future programs. :wallbash:

#5 Jack Reed

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 08:28 AM

Your reports are making me wish I had seen it myself! Okay, finish the job: Make me completely envious. Tell us whether the little kids performed as well as Balanchine's did.

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 09:25 AM

bart...Jack, what I'm starting noticing is that the Company is maturing artistically. It is obvious that they are perhaps one of the troupes with such few principals, nothing at all like NYCB or the Mariinsky, where there are so many. But I think it is perfect that way...Villella's dancers get to dance A LOT, and then there's the interesting detail, as it has been said before here, of getting to see corps members and soloists sharing important roles along side with Principals. That's one of the things that we had also in Havana...only a few bunch of Principals at the time-(in between the hardship of scaling the never ending ranks and the continuous defections)-so one could really see the progress and work of a given dancer in many different roles. I really like it that way. Congrats again to Eddie.

#7 bart

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 10:21 AM

I agree with Cristian about the artistic growth, though I can't put my finger on exactly what is going on to produce this result. It's certainly true that, despite the loss of a number of corps people, at least two soloists, and 1 principal since last season, this group works together smoothly and with a kind of passion that I don't remember from several seasons ago.

Cristian's point about dancing OFTEN -- and in a variety of roles -- also seems on the mark. It's a young company, so the work hasn't yet gone as far as visible exhaustion. :wink:

Even Villella seems reenergized and more focused, at least based on how he speaks at the pre-performance talks and other appearances at which I've heard him. And why not? His company is really on the verge of becoming the company he imagined several decades ago. That must be a thrill for him.

RE: the kids in Mr. Balanchine's own performances. The MCB kids are like NYCB in the earlier days of the production. As the decades passed, the children in the NYCB production became (it seemed to me) more professional at best, but also, at times, slicker and more self-conscious. Whatever is/was the case in New York City, the Miami kids were a delight. I can't think of a bigger compliment than this: These students carried their full artistic weight in bringing across this wonderful ballet and never once distracted us from it.


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