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Nutcracker at BAM December 2011

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#16 Marga


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Posted 17 December 2011 - 04:07 PM

Opening night was the first time I'd seen Ratmansky's Nutcracker, and I couldn't resist writing a compare-and-contrast essay about ABT and NYCB.

I thought you wrote a very interesting review (you are Tom Phillips, I assume?). Your comparisons (and contrasts) are well-explained. Without having seen Ratmansky's version, it sounds close to the original Russian in its main elements, as was Baryshnikov's. Balanchine's I've seen dozens of times and it will always serve as THE one to compare all others by.

Balanchine's Act One is a table-setter that leaves you with the pleasure of anticipation; Ratmansky's leaves you breathless.

I like your wording in this statement. As a Nutcracker viewer, I prefer the "pleasure of anticipation" as Act I comes to a close. Serenity over chaos sits well during the season of peace.

I've never liked the depiction of unruly children - or adults - in a Nutcracker. In the National Ballet of Canada's Kudelka version, there is an awful food fight which makes me cringe. The brother-sister duo of main child characters fling vegetables across a long table at each other - truly unruly. Balanchine intelligently keeps to the morés of the time period making his Act I stately and respectful.

#17 angelica


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Posted 19 December 2011 - 01:53 PM

On Saturday I saw the matinee performance of Nutcracker with Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes. It was breathtakingly beautiful. In my view, Veronika is the most eloquent, rapturous, purely classical, unmannered, fluid ballerina of our time. Watching her brings tears to my eyes and I am starving for more of her. Thank God for Ratmansky, whose emotionally evocative choreography seems to bring out the best in her, and I can't wait to see her dance again in his ballets, present and future.

#18 bingham


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Posted 23 December 2011 - 10:47 AM

I was at the Dec 22 evening performance. The main floor was almost full( except for the side seats) of warmly appreciative adults and well-behaved children. The drive to BAM from Bergen County,NJ was ,surprisingly, not as bad as i thought. Except for the last-minute-shopping -traffic in the Paramus area, it was an easy drive to Brooklyn. Parking was easy and cheap (compared to LC). After the performance, it took me 45 minutes to get home( and i'm not a fast driver).
I loved this Nutcracker. For once, we were not bored by the 1st act.The children danced and acted very well. The snow scene was very well choreographed and danced by the corps.I thought it would even look better in a bigger stage.We enjoyed the 2nd act with different variations than usual. Yuriko and Alexandre danced the PDD very beautifully as well as the rest of the cast esp A Scott,S Brandt and J Gorak. I would not mind seeing this again next year at the BAM. Posted Image

#19 Barbara


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Posted 24 December 2011 - 07:01 AM

Well although I was "bummed" as I stated on the thread announcing the D. Hallberg injury, I must say that Eric Tamm aquited himself beautifully. Although not as tall as Hallberg nor as regal, he danced beautifully and has a winning, boyish quality that fit the character very well. He and Gillian had lovely chemistry together. The only negative I would note is that some of the lifts and transitions within the lifts seemed a little rough. Otherwise, I was even more enchanted by this production than last year. I think Ratmansky has made a brilliant Nut! He hits the psychological notes just right and the playfulness and humor are delightful. I was close to tears the first time young Clara and her Nutcracker Prince are mirrored by their adult selves. Young Mikaela Kelly and Theodore Elliman were very touching and perfectly embodied that time between childhood and adulthood. I love all the "stage business" in Act 1; hardly know where to focus my attention with all the charming interactions going on. Grandmother Adrienne Schulte was a big hit - so nice to have her back in the company.And I can't say enough about Grandfather Roman Zhurbin - he never disappoints. The dance for the Nutcracker's Sisters was especially fine with Gemma Bond, Kristi Boone, Yuriko Kajiya, Sarah Lane, and Hee Seo - quite a line-up! One mishap in the Waltz of the Flowers during the "tossing" sequence. One young lady was not caught well and kind of crumpled down to the floor but was up quickly and everything moved along just fine. Spotted E. Steifel in the audience - lots of empty seats, btw. Now can't wait until next year - looks like this will be an annual outing.

#20 abatt


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Posted 29 December 2011 - 06:00 AM

I'm happy to report that David Hallberg danced last night with Gillian Murphy. Both were in excellent form. This was my only ABT Nutcracker of the season. The tickets sold well for this performance.

#21 aurora


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Posted 29 December 2011 - 06:36 AM

I'm happy to report that David Hallberg danced last night with Gillian Murphy. Both were in excellent form. This was my only ABT Nutcracker of the season. The tickets sold well for this performance.

That is great news! Both performances I went to sold well seemingly (matinee on the 17th and the evening of the 20th).

#22 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 07:46 AM

I went to BAM to see the December 28th matinee.

I hadn’t seen a live performance of The Nutcracker in over ten years. I love Tchaikovsky’s music, but I’ve grown to think of The Nutcracker as a holiday entertainment for children and tourists. Then I read several great reviews of American Ballet Theatre’s new Nutcracker. The choreography is by Alexei Ratmansky and I loved his The Bright Stream and The Little Humpbacked Horse. So I decided to buy a ticket and head to Brooklyn to see what all the hoopla was about.

Ratmansky’s Nutcracker is charmingly innovative. It starts in the kitchen where the servants are preparing for the Stahlbaum’s annual Christmas Eve party. The children, Clara and Fritz, arrive to sample the sweets, while their parents check on how the kitchen staff is progressing. As soon as everyone leaves to greet the guests, mice come into the kitchen looking for scraps of the holiday goodies. The littlest mouse, played by the scene-stealing, Jared Parker, is especially enduring.

At the party Clara is given a Nutcracker doll by her godfather, Drosselmeyer. After the guests leave, Clara is sent upstairs to bed while the Nutcracker remains in the party room. During the night Clara sneaks downstairs in search of her favorite new toy. When the clock strikes midnight, Clara sees everything change around her. Sitting in a gigantic chair, Clara watches as the now life-sized Nutcracker is attacked by the mice. They are led by their Mouse King, while the Nutcracker enlists the aid of an army of toy soldiers. When it looks like the Mouse King may defeat the Nutcracker, Clara kills him with one of her shoes.

The mouse army is defeated and the Nutcracker becomes a teenaged boy. Clara and the Nutcracker Boy begin to dance when adult versions of themselves suddenly appear. This grownup Clara and her Nutcracker Prince perform a glorious pas de deux. Next the young Clara and the Nutcracker Boy are trapped by malevolent dancing snowflakes in a terrifying blizzard. Fortunately Drosselmayer arrives with a sleigh and rescues Clara and the Nutcracker Boy. He takes them to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, who looks very much like Clara’s own nanny. To celebrate their defeat of the Mouse King, the Sugar Plum Fairy provides entertainment for Clara and the Nutcracker Boy.

This festival displays dances from all around the world. Arabia features a shirtless muscle man being chased by his four wives. From Russia Ratmansky gives us dancers reminiscent of the Three Stooges, if the Three Stooges could leap and tumble and twirl in the air. Mother Ginger finds a stowaway in her enormous skirts. It’s none other than the littlest mouse who proceeds to dance merrily with Mother Ginger’s children, the Polichinelles. The Flowers waltz beautifully, but in Ratmansky’s Nutcracker they are partnered by four bees.

Suddenly Clara finds herself magically transformed into the adult Clara. She dances The Nutcracker’s well known pas de deux with her grownup Prince. This famous pas de deux becomes even richer with the addition of Ratmansky’s magnificent choreography. After this Clara finds herself back in her bedroom in the Stahlbaum home. It is Christmas morning. She wonders if this magical evening has only been a dream.

All the performers in ABT’s The Nutcracker are wonderful. Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo are perfect as the grownup Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. Cornejo even bears a striking resemblance to Philip Perez, who performs the role of the Nutcracker Boy. As the adult Nutcracker Prince, Cornejo excites the audience with his multiple air turns and incredible ballon. Reyes’ Princess Clara stands out for her twinkling footwork and gorgeous port de bras. In both pas de deux Reyes and Cornejo dance with a radiant sense of childlike wonder. Their Act II pas de deux is so rapturous it brings tears to my eyes. One of the final lifts is a bit awkward, with Cornejo lowering Reyes too quickly. But it is a very slight glitch in a gloriously beautiful performance.

Athena Petrizzo and Philip Perez are the young Clara and the Nutcracker Boy. They both give performances rich with wide-eyed innocence and youthful joy. Both the Snowflakes and the Flowers dance in splendid tandem with the music and each other. Performing as the Snowflakes and Flowers are students from the JKO ballet school among the ABT corps members. They all dance so perfectly that I find it impossible to distinguish the students from the ABT company members.

All in all it was a wonderful afternoon at the ballet, enjoyed immensely by children of all ages. I will definitely be going to Brooklyn to see ABT’s The Nutcracker for many years to come.

#23 angelica


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Posted 01 January 2012 - 06:47 AM

Yesterday afternoon was a glorious moment in the history of ballet. Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak performed an exquisite final Nutcracker of the season. The fact that they missed the Grigorovich lift was a minor detail in an otherwise beautiful performance, with glorious radiance and gorgeous "lines" on both of them. This is a partnership made in heaven and I hope it is one that will develop into a great one. As for the ballet Nutcracker itself, I've gone three times, and each time it gets better, as there is so much to take in that it takes more than a single performance to see it all. I love Ratmansky's choreography as well as his charming sense of humor. All in all, a treasure. I'm definitely going again next year.

#24 nysusan


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Posted 01 January 2012 - 10:07 AM

I saw ABT's Nut twice last year in it's inaugural season. Wasn't really crazy about it and figured I'd give it a couple of seasons to settle in before I went back. However I found myself priced out of NYCB's Nut after 1 performance so I decided to make the trip to Brooklyn for 1 ABT Nut.

I'd seen Part/Gomes and Murphy/Hallberg last year, and looking over the casts the only one that really piqued my interest was the Lane/Gorak cast on the last performance of the season.

I saw them yesterday, and I'm glad I went. I really enjoyed Ratmansky's 1st act, the kids seemed less bratty and I was able to appreciate the detailed characterizations and charming quirkiness of the whole thing. I liked the Waltz of the Snowflakes much better this time, it was amazing how it brought out sinister notes in the music that I hadn't heard before. Still, I prefer the glory of Balanchine's version of this pas.

Unfortunately the best I can say about Ratmansky's Waltz of the Flowers was that I didn't find it as obnoxious as I did last year. I'd still trade 4 Bees for 1 Dewdrop any day of the week and although my eyes were glued to the stage by the middle of the variation each note of the music conjured the image of Ashley Bouder's magnificent Dewdrop in my mind's eye.

This is no reflection on the 4 talented men who danced the Bees. With the exception of the last few bars of music when the Bees lift each of the Flowers I just don't think Ratmansky's choreography does very much to illuminate the music. And I still don't care for any of the 2nd act diverts.

With regard to the dancing, I thought the company looked very good. Lane & Gorak were wonderful 95% of the time but there was trouble with both of the big lifts. In their 1st variation there is a moment where he lifts her to appx shoulder level with her legs extended around him in a kind of cross between a jete and attitude and twirls her round & round. This started off shaky but he once he had her in position it went off fine. They weren't so lucky in the 2nd pas de deux. He just about got her up into the 1 leg hold for the big "Grigorovich" lift and then immediately fumbled her into a rather awkward position around chest level and held her there walking forward for a few seconds till the next musical cue.

I think Gorak is the most talented up and coming male dancer in the company. His feet are gorgeous, he has absolutely beautiful line. He did a series of pirouettes (or were they tours, I forget already) that were performed perfectly cleanly, with complete & utter ease and a perfectly controlled finish. This guy has the goods but he needs to develop some upper body strength & work on his partnering asap. He is young and should be given coaching and time to develop BUT as a paying audience member I don't care how beautiful a solo variation is I find it completely unacceptable to blow the lifts. Mr. Gorak - get thee to a gym, pronto or stick with soloist roles until you develop the strength needed for complicated partnering!

Lane, on the other hand gave a a beautiful performance throughout and was completely unperturbed by Gorak's flubs. She didn't seem nervous at all, even after the blown lift. Ratmansky's somewhat fussy footwork looked much better on her than it did on Part or Murphy but I have to say that despite her beautiful dancing I didn't get the sense of utter rapture that I did with Part or childlike wonder with Murphy. I didn't really come away with any strong impression of who Lane's adult Clara was or what she was feeling. Hard to say whether that was due to a lack of charisma or a lack of experience but although I enjoyed Lane's performance when it comes to a combination of technique and artistry there's no way I would put her in the same league as Part or Murphy, let alone that of some of the world's greatest ballerinas like Cojocaru, Vishneva and Osipova who McKenzie has been so graciously bringing us lately.

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