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bart

Balanchine's Nutcracker 2010

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I made only visit to MCB's Nutcracker this season, which means I had to take the cast I got. (The company does not announce casting before performances, so there's always a Surprise!!! when you enter the auditorium and are handed a cast list by an usher.)

Saturday evening was clearly "Principals Night Off" at MCB.The only principals in sight were Yann Trividic foppishly elegant and eccentric as Drossselmeier, Patricia Delgado, an uneven Dewdrop; Mary Carmen Catoya, returning from an injury, dancing Chocolate with Reyneris Reyes ; and Renato Penteado, excellent but possibly wasted as Dr. Stahlbaum.

Casting a major ballet so heavily with the youngest members of the company led to a few problems. The battle with the Mouse King looked under-rehearsed and lacked both menace and humor. Waltz of the Flowers seemed ragged. Without a scintillating Dewdrop, the heart was taken out of the piece, and the dancing just meandered along.

The kids in the party scene were marvelous, even in those little details that sometimes get lost with so much going on. Brittany Weger seems younger than most Maries I've seen, but she grew in stature in the Act I scary scenes. Michael Lambert's Fritz was delightful; he's a natural on stage. Tommy Batchelor (Nutcracker Prince), a recent Billy Elliot on Broadway, was kind and courtly with Marie, and clear and expressive in his mime.

Apprentice Kleber Rebello created genuine excitement in the Act I Soldier variation and was a fine leader of the Candy Canes.

For me the big (and happiest) surprise of the evening was the the Sugar Plum fairy of Nathalia Arja, last year a Student Apprentice and now a Company Apprentice. How often does a major company cast an apprentice in this role? How often does it work so well? Arja gave a mature, thoughtful and affecting performance. I was amazed (and, I confess, a bit relieved) by how confident ... how good ... this young dancer is. From her first entrance (dancing with warmth and beautiful precision among the little angels) Arja took ownership of her Kingdom. Her Sugar Plum Fairy is, amazingly, already a fully developed character. Her Cavalier was new corps member Renan Cerdeiro, another ballet prodigy with lots of technique, stagecraft, and potential for growth.

Cerdeiro has already this season been given a chance to try on the male lead in Theme and Variations, perhaps prematurely. Edward Villella, it's clear, is advancing both Cerdeiro and now Arja very rapidly indeed.

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For me the big (and happiest) surprise of the evening was the the Sugar Plum fairy of Nathalia Arja, last year a Student Apprentice and now a Company Apprentice. How often does a major company cast an apprentice in this role? How often does it work so well? Arja gave a mature, thoughtful and affecting performance. I was amazed (and, I confess, a bit relieved) by how confident ... how good ... this young dancer is. From her first entrance (dancing with warmth and beautiful precision among the little angels) Arja took ownership of her Kingdom. Her Sugar Plum Fairy is, amazingly, already a fully developed character.

bart...for some reason I just saw your post right now...! (sorry for not having got it earlier). Wow..it is so interesting that we BOTH had the same EXACT experience with Arja!! For me she was the BEST thing on this MCB Nutcracker run...

Brava!! :clapping:

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