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REVIEWS: Nutcracker at BAM


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#31 spot-spot

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:45 AM

Would love to see more photos of the grand pas :)

#32 Amy Reusch

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 08:42 PM

especially seven tails of the Mouse King.


One of the 12 year olds that accompanied me explained that this is what a Rat King is... 7 rats entangled by their tails and asked if I hadn't noticed the 7 tails... apparently she read about it in some book (which had nothing to do on the surface with Nutcracker). I'm now going hunting for more info on the internet...

and here is the unsavory entry on Wikipedia explaining it: http://en.wikipedia...._king_(folklore)

#33 Eileen

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 09:31 PM

I was absolutely enthralled by this Nutcracker. Saw it tonight (Dec. 28) with Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg - a dream couple - and they were perfection. I sat in seat A1 in the orchestra which is actually the third row. It's an excellent seat, but you do have heads in front of you as row A is on the same level as row AA and BB - I would rather sit on the aisle a few rows back so as to have elevation and a better view of the stage. But quibbles aside, I saw the dancing close up and the expressions - there was so much to see, to absorb!

Ratmansky's Nutcracker is very busy with story-telling especially in the first half. But he's quite amazing really, he keeps everything moving, with all sorts of surprises and a wacky humor at times. Ratmansky will never echo Balanchine's "Don't act, dear, just dance" - his dancers certainly do act, they are very expressive and effectively so. Their expressions add to the story line of the ballet as they emit surprise, annoyance, or even sheer delight. And delight is telegraphed to the audience in many of the ensemble dances. Especially effective were the Nutcracker's Sisters (usually called Marzipan Shepherdesses), the flowers, and the darling Polichinelles in a dance full of wit and humor. The children looked absolutely delighted!

The snowflakes were a surprise, in that they were actually a wicked bunch of sisters. They were chilling, and I would have expected them to carry icicles in their hands (they did not but should have). They were very like the Wilis, a malevolent sisterhood. They even crossed their hands in front Wili-style at one point, a sure clue of their origins in Giselle. The first half of the ballet was quite dark, but the second half was all lightness and cheer.

The flowers were charming. I liked the four male bees, but I can't help thinking that if Balanchine had choreographed their sequence, he would have interspersed them more effectively among the flowers - Balanchine was a master at utilizing limited numbers of men partnering many more women(see Divertimento No. 15, Serenade, Stars and Stripes for example). Ratmansky's bees danced far too independently - aren't bees supposed to sniff the flowers and flutter from one to another?

I loved the Arabian dance where the four harem girls compete for one danseur - it gave the ladies a chance to turn the tables!

The centerpiece of the ballet was Murphy/Hallberg, who were sublime. At one climax of the choreography, she seemed close to tears. And Hallberg has a way of concentrating, his eyes round, as if he is willing himself to conquer this moment. They are both brilliant! And they have a modesty in their bearing, a genuine humility as they acknowledged the tributes of the audience. I realized as I watched Gillian Murphy from up close that she is not beautiful, but her dancing makes her so.

May I add that my evening was enhanced by some very special encounters. Allegra Kent sat in the very first row just ahead of me, and at intermission I asked if she would sign my program. Then to my amazement, I saw another principal of NYC Ballet, Wendy Whelan, in the back of the theater, and I asked for her autograph, too. That program's a keeper! Wendy looked small and slight, whereas on stage she appears so tall and commanding. She is gracious and lovely. Oddly enough, on the train home, she and her husband were riding the same subway car as I did, and I "accompanied" them all the way to the West Side of Manhattan, where I got off at Lincoln Center. Odd to see a Sugar Plum Fairy, Swan Queen, and Wheeldon muse riding the subway. Isn't that so New York?

#34 Jelly

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:08 AM

There were other NYCB principals as well - the Angle brothers and Maria K. A very interesting evening but it makes you realize what a master work Balanchine's Nutcracker is. It was unfortunately difficult to avoid comparison.

#35 Eileen

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 06:56 AM

Yes, Balanchine's is definitive for the 20th century. But we have Ratmansky for the 21st. Time marches on, Balanchine is eternal, but ABT needed a Nutcracker and Ratmansky has produced a splendid one. I felt the production was cramped on the small BAM stage, but that is what was available.

There were other NYCB principals as well - the Angle brothers and Maria K. A very interesting evening but it makes you realize what a master work Balanchine's Nutcracker is. It was unfortunately difficult to avoid comparison.



#36 dancemom101

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:36 AM

Have read posts re less than stellar thoughts of Gomes/Part, but for my 'part' (no pun intended!), I think they are divine together. Also think that Marcelo just oozes charisma and has wonderful acting ability whereas to me, Hallburg is more straight-laced with a different type of stage presence.

Looking forward to seeing Cornejo/Reyes interpretation.

#37 Slant

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 08:58 AM

I must also chime in to say Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg were fantastic last night in their roles as the Princess and Prince in ABT's The Nutcracker. The Act 1 transfiguration scene was mesmerizing - my favorite part. That is why Balanchine's version leaves me feeling a bit empty. The transfiguration scene is so dramatic and moving. Gillian and David received numerous well-deserved ovations. Alexei Ratmansky's new choreography was intriguing. A larger stage than at BAM's Gilman Opera House would do Alexei's work greater justice, as the stage gets quite crowded in Act 1's party scenes and in Act 2's Sugar Plum Palace scenes.

The music sounded a bit muffled. Probably because of the acoustics at the Gillman.

I really enjoyed this new version. Kudos, Alexei!

#38 Eileen

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 10:40 AM

The placement of the orchestra beneath the stage and almost beneath the audience is probably responsible for any muffling of sound. I could hear well but I was in the third row from the front. The orchestra is really in a sublevel and you can't even see the conductor when he takes his second act bow.

I must also chime in to say Gillian Murphy and David Hallberg were fantastic last night in their roles as the Princess and Prince in ABT's The Nutcracker. The Act 1 transfiguration scene was mesmerizing - my favorite part. That is why Balanchine's version leaves me feeling a bit empty. The transfiguration scene is so dramatic and moving. Gillian and David received numerous well-deserved ovations. Alexei Ratmansky's new choreography was intriguing. A larger stage than at BAM's Gilman Opera House would do Alexei's work greater justice, as the stage gets quite crowded in Act 1's party scenes and in Act 2's Sugar Plum Palace scenes.

The music sounded a bit muffled. Probably because of the acoustics at the Gillman.

I really enjoyed this new version. Kudos, Alexei!



#39 Amy Reusch

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 01:52 PM

I found myself wondering if BAM was the out of town try out for Kennedy Center...

#40 Barbara

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Posted 29 December 2010 - 03:20 PM

I will also chime in to say that the Tuesday evening performance was simply enchanting. I thought I was all "nutcrackered-out" but now find I can't wait to see this new ABT version again! Must add special kudos to a few corps members - Roman Zhurbin and Marian Butler as Grandmother and Grandfather were charming and hilarious and then steadfastly moved on to parts in the Chinese and Russian dances - bravo to them!! I was also very impressed by Roddy Doble as both Mr. Stahlbaum and as the male dancer in the Arabian dance. Someone upthread mentioned that Ratmansky's Arabian dance had similar qualities to the purple Rothbart solo from Swan Lake. I agree and in fact could definitely see Mr. Doble in that role. He was also very impressive in the recent Innovation Initiative evening and I hope Mr. McKenzie will begin to use him in more prominent soloist roles. My only minor complaint (ok, yes I also wouldn't mind losing the wedding veil) was the Spanish dance costumes. I thought the black marcel-waved wigs and voluminous skirts overwhelmed tiny Maria Riccetto, Jennifer Whalen and Misty Copeland. A little less material would improve the look a lot.

#41 Barbara

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 06:09 AM

More comments: I spotted Allegra Kent too sitting several rows ahead of me and using a festive red velvet cane. I was practically giddy seeing her! Also spotted Robert LaFosse and Gary Chryst. I was sitting in orch row E and now that I see how small the BAM opera house is, I think this is too close. Made for lots of head-swiveling to see the whole picture and the tall woman in front of me obscured a bit of my line of vision. Otherwise it seemed a lovely venue and easy to get to by subway from Manhattan; not withstanding the slushy streets and delayed service.

#42 FauxPas

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 06:40 AM

Any word on how the Kajiya/Hammoudi, Herrera/Stearns, Riccetto/Simkin and Reyes/Cornejo pairings did in the big pas de deux? I would like to hear about the men in particular.

#43 gsmom

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 08:02 AM

http://www.nj.com/en...nutcracker.html
Hope this link works....another review to add to this interesting discussion...

#44 dancemom101

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 08:49 AM

Cornejo/Reyes have their first performance this evening (second, Sunday evening).

#45 abatt

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Posted 30 December 2010 - 09:08 AM

I saw Paloma and Cory last night. They were not nearly as thrilling as Murphy and Hallberg. Their first act pdd looked very careful and labored. They both looked better in the grand pas in the second act. However, Cory's jumps are relatively low to the ground, and he doesn't have the beautiful line of David Hallberg. The first lift in the grand pas was shaky. The other lifts were smoother. I liked Paloma in this role, but she was not as thrilling as Murphy. There were acres of empty seats in the orchestra.


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