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Nutcracker NYCB

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Any comments about the performances of this years NYCB Nutcracker. Can you really see any individuality from one year to the next?

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Any comments about the performances of this years NYCB Nutcracker. Can you really see any individuality from one year to the next?

I saw the opening night performance (Friday 11/26) with Jenifer Ringer (Sugarplum), Jared Angle (Cavalier), and Ashley Bouder (Dewdrop).

It was interesting to watch Jenifer and Ashley in the same act because they're such very different dancers. Neither Jenifer or Jared has Ashley's whiz bang technique but I really enjoyed them in their roles. I thought Jenifer was a very tender and maternal Sugarplum, very lovely, and her partnering with Jared had a true warmth to it. I don't think Jenifer shines as much in solos but I love how she dances pas de deux and interacts with other dancers (even in minor scenes, as when listening to the Prince's pantomime or leading the little angels, she seemed dramatically present and engaged with the other dancers in a very rich way).

Last year I saw Ashley as Sugarplum for the first time and I like her much more as Dewdrop: I think the role is just better suited to her (in part because there's no pas de deux) and obviously it really showcases her remarkable turns.

Teresa Reichlen's Coffee was a highlight for me Friday night, as always, and I'm so glad she's continued to dance the role even after her promotion.

I was amused by how Sean Suozzi, after doing a very reined in and tentative Candy Cane, seemed to regain his confidence after his big solo was over, and treated the audience to a much more enthusiastic set of jumps at the very end of the ballet (when the sweets dancers are bidding Marie and the Prince goodbye).

Do I see any individuality from one year to the next? I do. Partly from seeing different dancers but I also find that I notice new aspects of the ballet each year...at least so far!

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I haven't really noticed any individuality from one year to the next - probably due to my own inattention - but, given that The Nutcracker is the only thing on the menu at NYCB in December, one has the chance to notice in lurid detail the differences among the performances from night to night. Not only can the same key dancers be spectacular on one night and ragged on another, but sometimes the whole performance can be either great, or seemingly star-crossed, as when the children lose their bearings if the conductor treats the music as a timed exercise, when snowflakes start falling, literally, or when there are scenery malfunctions. The sheer number of performances, however, does afford ample opportunity to see how different dancers treat each role.

Wednesday night was my first Nutcracker of the season and I was pleased overall. So was everyone else, apparently, as there were ample guffaws and spontaneous bursts of applause.

Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard were superb as the Sugarplum Fairy and her cavalier. She treated us to a fine demonstration of her adagio technique, using her sweeping long limbs to maximum effect. Her supported arabesque, pulled along on the sliding plate during the grand pas de deux was majestic: she stood tall, straight and utterly immobile. I think that when that move is performed correctly, with no wobbling, it underscores Balanchine's sheer genius as a choreographer. Kowroski and Askegard both wobbled a bit in the supported arabesque with Askegard on one knee near the end of the duet (I've noticed that this is frequently the case; would it be crass to ask an NYCB dancer if there is something peculiarly difficult about this?), but concluded with a smooth, graceful fish dive. They received a well-deserved tumultuous ovation. The grand pas did provide an unexpected risible flourish when Kowroski's tutu began unraveling in the back, giving her a long, thin tail, with a fuzzy bit on the end. It floated and danced, as if of its own free will, glistening brightly under the lights. When Kowroski rejoined Askegard after his short solo, her tail had been docked.

Tea was marvelous, with Daniel Ulbricht wowing everyone with his madcap high jumps and wide splits. Newly-minted corpswomen Lauren Lovette and Sarah Villwock positively sparkled as his sidekicks, No Darn Fun and Achoo.

Teresa Reichlen was wonderful as the Arabian dancer. Since she is my favorite ballerina, I'm inclined to take everything she does with a grain of sugar, so it's probably not objective of me to say that her extensions and overall slinkiness were fabulous. Reichlen usually dances with her face frozen in a toothy, but mirthless smile, so it was particularly captivating when, on the very last note, she ended with a kittenish grin. The audience was charmed. I don't know if her Coffee was enough to awaken every man in the theater, as my balletomanic elders and betters tell me Gloria Govrin's was, but it was enough to quiet the four French businessmen sitting in front of me, who otherwise ran their bouches for pretty much most of the performance.

The only disappointment for me was Megan Fairchild's performance as the Dewdrop. Although capable, her turns were slow and her numerous sautes de chat were rather lackluster. Other Dewdrops (Bouder, Hyltin, Mearns, to name a few) end very effectively by freezing dramatically on the last note - wonderful! But when the music stopped last night, Fairchild was still moving. Since the Dewdrop is all speedy entrances and exits and tight turns and jumps through the flowers, a certain explosive verve is required to make the role, and Fairchild quite simply did not have it. Sara Mearns did bring all that to one rendition of the Dewdrop I saw last November, and for this reason, despite her falling, her performance was was far, far more compelling than Fairchild's. I made this observation to the out-of-town friend who accompanied me last night and was told that I am a nitpicking, spoiled New Yorker who doesn't know how good he's got it. I've seen Fairchild dance a much better Dewdrop before and I know she was just having an off night, so I will go watch her dance the role again this season...for you see, all it takes for me to get to the Ed Koch Theater is a short ride on the IRT. How good have New Yorkers got it?

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I made this observation to the out-of-town friend who accompanied me last night and was told that I am a nitpicking, spoiled New Yorker who doesn't know how good he's got it.

There's a difference between being a "nitpicker" and being a discerning, knowledgeable audience member.

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Melange, thank you for your review, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I was also there on Weds night and agree with most of your observations. Maria K. and Charles A. are my favorite grand pas couple -- they make the tricky partnering look smooth and elegant, and I love how he throws her up and lets go for a split second before catching her for the fish at the end! And what a cavalier, in between supported turns he ripped that loose thread that was threatening to trip her up in half, so it was no longer a threat! :) I am going to see them again, I just love how they do that grand pas (even if Maria K is not as good at the solo in the beginning of Act 2, their grand pas more than makes up for it.)

The disappointment and distraction for me on Weds night (aside from kids in the audience who seem to get more badly behaved each year) was Snowflakes. Lara Tong dropped one of her snowball things (whatever they're called, that the corps dancers carry at the finale) and I was holding my breath hoping no-one was going to slip and fall over it, when yet another girl dropped one of her pom pom things at the very front of the stage, and there were 2 hazards waiting to trip the dancers! I missed most of the wonderful finale as a result. The Snow dancers on opening night were much better! I'm hoping there are no more prop or wardrobe malfunctions this season! :) A special shout-out to Henry Seth, who makes a wonderful Dr. Stuhlbaum.

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Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz were wonderful in tonight's Dec. 4 performance of The Nutcracker. Their pas de deux in Act Two was simply magical! Elegance, grace, tenderness. Tiler's lines were beautiful and Joaquin's partnering was impeccable. Also enjoyed Allen Peiffer's Candy Cane. What a spark plug he is!

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Ed Koch Theater!

Would that it were :)

Former Mayor Ed Koch just got a bridge! From today's NYT:

The Bloomberg administration is set to announce plans on Wednesday to rename the Queensboro Bridge, the Midtown muse of Simon and Garfunkel and a steel signature of the city's skyline, after former Mayor Edward I. Koch, who turns 86 this month.

The 101-year-old bridge, which cantilevers over the East River from 59th Street in Manhattan to Long Island City, Queens, is not the only structure to be rechristened this week. State legislators voted on Tuesday to rename the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel after former Gov. Hugh L. Carey.

The creation of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge must be approved by the City Council; Speaker Christine C. Quinn said Tuesday that she supported it, adding that Mr. Koch "deserves way more than a street."

Way more than just a bridge, even. And it just so happens that there's a theater that already has his name on it. :wink:

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayor_%28musical%29

Remember this? I didn't discover it until much later, as 1985 was a rough year, Charles Strouse no less. Never heard of anybody seeing it. Of course, he went on to TV glory in the 90s with that judge show, that was boring. This even had Helmsley and Bellamy and Bess Myerson and Sue Simmons characters in it...although Sue's natural hilarity outdid itself with her on-air f-bomb a few years ago. I encourage interested parties to google this, as it is one of the funniest things I have ever heard, as is her (totally bored) apology in which she said 'I used a word'.

But now I think Ed Koch has enough things named after him, thank you.

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http://en.wikipedia....r_%28musical%29

Remember this? I didn't discover it until much later, as 1985 was a rough year, Charles Strouse no less. Never heard of anybody seeing it. Of course, he went on to TV glory in the 90s with that judge show, that was boring. This even had Helmsley and Bellamy and Bess Myerson and Sue Simmons characters in it...although Sue's natural hilarity outdid itself with her on-air f-bomb a few years ago. I encourage interested parties to google this, as it is one of the funniest things I have ever heard, as is her (totally bored) apology in which she said 'I used a word'.

But now I think Ed Koch has enough things named after him, thank you.

Lordy, how could I have forgotten about Mayor! Perhaps New York City Opera will mount a revival at Koch Theater...

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The casting is up now on the NYCB website through Dec. 26. As in the past, lots of newbies are getting the lead roles toward the end of the run. New Sugarplums are Brittany Pollack and Rebecca Krohn. New Cavs. are Catazarro, Finlay and Christian Tworyzanski. New Dewdrop - Lauren King. Carmena is debuting as Cav. tonight.

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Also, Megan LeCrone is getting a Dewdrop! Very exciting stuff, hopefully people can report on their performances here for those of us not in NY...

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Christian Tworyzanski as the Cavalier. That's interesting. I want to see more of Justin Peck in a principal role. Anyone else feel that way? Justin is one of the most "musical" of the corps dancers.

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. I want to see more of Justin Peck in a principal role. Anyone else feel that way? Justin is one of the most "musical" of the corps dancers.

Absolutely. A year or so ago Peck danced the prince in Firebird and took my breath away. Not just the musicality but the depth of characterization and feeling.

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I was at last Friday's performance and just wanted to note that Tess Reichlen's Dewdrop is the best I've ever seen -- she has great footwork, can hold balances forever, and has an incredible jump -- that series of jumps down the diagonal was breathtaking! And her height just makes the choreography even more beautiful. I really hope to see her in more roles next season -- she's one of NYCB's best. :)

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Balanchinette...I agree about Tess' abilities, although I haven't seen her in this role. Might you be able to tell us if this is unusual, using a taller dancer in the role of Balanchine's Dew Drop? I have never seen it done. Is it often done at NYBC?

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Darlindancer, Tess has been the only tall dancer to do Dewdrop that I've seen, personally. I think she's very unique in that she can handle the allegro roles that other tall dancers (e.g., Maria Korowski) can't, because they're not as fast. I only hope Tess can keep this up! :) She was amazing in the lead role in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, a few seasons ago, as well. I would love, love, love to see her do Theme & Variations, I think she's more than capable technically. I'd also like to see her in Diamonds, which is an adagio role. I don't think she's been given as much exposure as, say, Sara Mearns, who is also very versatile (but not as striking in height). I like a tall Dewdrop, it's nice to have Dewdrop really stand out amongst the (generally) tall girls NYCB likes to use as Flowers.

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I can recall at least one year, a long while ago in dance years, that Gloria Govrin and Suki Schorer used to alternate as the Dewdrop. Talk about the long and short of it!

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I saw Karin Von Arnoldigen do Dew. She was definately tall.

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Darlindancer, Tess has been the only tall dancer to do Dewdrop that I've seen, personally. I think she's very unique in that she can handle the allegro roles that other tall dancers (e.g., Maria Korowski) can't, because they're not as fast. I only hope Tess can keep this up! :) She was amazing in the lead role in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2, a few seasons ago, as well. I would love, love, love to see her do Theme & Variations, I think she's more than capable technically. I'd also like to see her in Diamonds, which is an adagio role. I don't think she's been given as much exposure as, say, Sara Mearns, who is also very versatile (but not as striking in height). I like a tall Dewdrop, it's nice to have Dewdrop really stand out amongst the (generally) tall girls NYCB likes to use as Flowers.

Balanchinette, she is indeed marvelous--I have loved her since the first time I saw her, as one of the First Movement Bizet demis (she so outshone Abi Stafford, the principal, that it was quite embarrassing). We can only hope Martins will allow her to dance the Tchaikovsky Concerto again, as well as other roles she hasn't been given much of lately (Rondo of Brahms-Schoenberg, Barocco, etc, etc, etc.); your ideas about Reichlen in Diamonds and Theme are wonderful. I'd also like to see her in the Divert sixth variation, the ballerina roles in Cortege and Ballade, and how about a tall Apollo with Reichlen as Polyhymnia? can't happen soon enough. Re Dewdrop, anyone with enough technical facility (and, sadly, a few without it) has danced this role--everyone from von Aroldingen, Reichlen, Govrin, and the Nearys to Schorer, Fairchild, Hlinka, and Sosenko. Verdy did it often--imagine how gorgeous that would have been.

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and not to forget the tall Kyra Nichols who danced Dewdrop in the 1993 NYCB Balanchine Nutcracker movie! Former NYCB dancers speak of her incredible ability to dance "short girl" roles.

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I just returned from a wonderful performance of the Nutcracker. This is such a rich ballet that every time I see it, new details emerge. I never noticed how in the first act, Fritz is the outcast while the children dance. The other girls shun him, and he ends up dancing with his mother. It makes his acting out later in the act more understandable, and is such a nice human touch. The children as usual danced with incredible precision, warmth, and charm.

I thought the Snowflakes and Waltz of the Flowers looked a little less "on" than I've seen them. Arms not in unison, stuff like that. But the dancing of the soloists was superb. Sara Mearns - wonder what Macauley would say about her? She definitely has an unorthodox build. Very womanly and curvy, and without the long stretched look of most ballerinas. Yet she also moves in such a distinct way that it's impossible not to be transported by her dancing. She sometimes almost reminds me of Galina Ulanova -- the short neck and arms, the sweetly lyrical style of dancing. Unlike many NYCB ballerinas she doesn't really punch out the steps according to the music, but instead seems to "dance through" the music, Kirov-style. She was one of the most memorable SPF's I've seen. And she handled the shoulder-lifts and balances of the grand pas de deux superbly. Tiler Peck might now be a close second to Ashley Bouder in terms of whizbang Dewdrops -- she sailed through the role as if it were child's play. And she's grown so much as an artist too -- she even looks different. More mature, less of a soubrette. Tess Reichlen was a sinewy, sensuous Coffee.

I left the NY State Theater (no I refuse to call it the Koch Theater) in a happy mood. Balanchine's Nutcracker remains the gold standard for me.

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I was at the New York State Theater lobby today with my niece and her friend. As we watched the Nutcracker video, we couldn't hear the music because of the pre-performance hubbub, so I sang the score as the video played. I've seen it so often that I could coordinate the dance and the music. While I sang, I would stop to narrate the ballet, point out to the girls details of the party scene. After we left, one of the young girls told me that a 6 year old little girl had been watching me, intent on the singing and narrating, listening all the while! I wish I had seen her. Even an orchestra of one can provide a soundtrack to the Nutcracker. My niece and her friend, by the way, knew very little of ballet before this and they were in rapt fascination. I had the privilege of explaining to them who George Balanchine was and his contribution to ballet - and explaining and singing the Nutcracker score was great fun!

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I would add to the list of tall Dewdrops Suzanne Farrell, Colleen Neary, Maria Calegari, and unless I have a false memory (entirely possible), Darci. Among this generation, Sara Mearns dances the role. Still, Neary and Govrin perhaps excepted, Tess may be the tallest of DDs.

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