Posted 20 December 2009 - 08:44 AM
It just couldn't get any better. It was so beautiful...
Posted 20 December 2009 - 09:41 AM
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.
Posted 20 December 2009 - 11:50 PM
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!!!
Posted 21 December 2009 - 04:50 AM
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.
Posted 21 December 2009 - 08:28 AM
Posted 21 December 2009 - 09:25 AM
Posted 21 December 2009 - 10:21 AM
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.
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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