The second act takes place in the Kingdom of Sweets, with Sara Mearns making a fascinating confection as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’s radiant, but wild — she throws herself into her dancing and needs a partner who can handle that. Jonathan Stafford is gallant, but too reedy for her; they looked better apart than together. But when she’s alone, her phrasing and emotion turns pure dance into drama.
Monday, November 28
Posted 28 November 2011 - 11:53 AM
Posted 28 November 2011 - 11:55 AM
"I think I had this fear of ... I had this fear, period," she said in an interview in her West End home. "What would people think and how would it impact my reputation. ... There is this sort of unfortunate thing in the dance world where injury is pushed aside. A lot of dancers tend to hide their injuries and hide their pain. They think maybe that if you complain or don't dance, you'll be replaced."
Orlando agreed to talk to The Vancouver Sun for the first time about her injury and how it has changed her life because of its connection to her new career. Early on in her ordeal, when her injury turned her world upside down, she reached out for help to the Dancer Transition Resource Centre, a national organization with a Vancouver branch that helps dancers transition into and out of dancing.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 11:57 AM
At the premiere of "Sleeping Beauty", Hallberg electrified the audience from his first entry, bounding across the stage with fearless jumps -- his legs seemingly effortlessly extended to 180 degrees in midair.
He appeared sublimely at ease with his partner as the Princess Aurora, Svetlana Zakharova, the Bolshoi's long-legged prima.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:02 PM
“My mother Helen Herriott, who taught and directed at Fantasy Playhouse for more than 30 years, and the great former artistic director of Huntsville Civic Ballet, Loyd Tygett, both taught me character development and how to not only dance but how to use body movements to help tell a story and of course how to produce an exciting and entertaining show.”
Herriott and Gibb-Hilliard both danced in the 1969 “Nutcracker” in Huntsville, choreographed by Tygett.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:03 PM
I’d carp that the grand pas de deux between Bond and Nao Sakuma’s sparkly Sugar Plum Fairy was a touch mechanical on Friday, and that the two comedy Chinese in Act II look old-fashioned at best. Still, if you’re going to see only one Nutcracker this season, make it this one. And, should you be unable to make it to its rightful Midlands home, maybe give it a go when it comes to London’s O2 Centre after Boxing Day. If any version of the tale can survive this hangar of a venue, I suspect it is BRB’s.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:07 PM
But in ballet, a company’s season will make or break based on The Nutcracker – and only The Nutcracker. Even substituting another of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballets – Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty – would be suicide. Accordingly, ballet companies harbor mixed feelings about the perennial favorite.
“Everyone groans when The Nutcracker comes around,” [Ben] Stevenson says, adding that if he didn’t depend on the revenue from the ballet, he’s not sure if he would produce it every year. It’s not that Stevenson doesn’t like Tchaikovsky’s work. It’s that overperformance can cheapen a work and deafen its impact on an audience. “I’m not against the work; it is one of the great scores,” he says. “But if we didn’t do The Nutcracker, in 20 years it would become an adventure again.”
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:15 PM
Russell's career began onstage after attending the School of International Ballet in London on scholarship. Among his credits are touring with Ny Norsk Ballet, appearing in a tour of Annie Get Your Gun, and ultimately a period with the Garrick Players in 1951.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:19 PM
The Nutcracker is one of the most beloved stories of childhood and the holidays. Ballet Austin's version is the longest running production in Texas. It is watched by more than 1.5 million people every year. Ballet Austin's Artistic Director Stephen Mills spoke to KVUE about the tradition.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:28 PM
One of two works en pointe during the evening, Atonement featured a cast of 21 dancers who at times moved with the upright bearing and expressionless faces of hardened soldiers marching off to battle. A highlight was an extended sequence inspired by a long, continuous shot in the film showing a battle scene. Kamilah Sturton stood motionless on stage for several minutes as a maelstrom of nine male dancers circled him. Like soldiers falling in battle, they kept collapsing to the ground only to pause briefly before rising again to suggest the numbers of young men killed by war.
Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:30 PM
The opener will be “Chopiniana” (better known as “Les Sylphides”), a brief, non-narrative “ballet blanc” with dancers in white. At this year’s gala, the male lead will be danced by Bolshoi principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze. Fellow Bolshoi principal Marianna Ryzhkina will pair with Tsiskaridze, along with Tsiskaridze protégée Angelina Vorontsova.
The evening’s second piece will be “Polovtsian Dances,” from Alexander Borodin’s 1890 opera “Prince Igor.” Liepa’s daughter and former Bolshoi soloist Ilze Liepa, who now spends much of her time as an actress, will perform the lead female role. Alongside her will be Mikhail Lobukhin, the former Marinsky soloist who joined the Bolshoi last year.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:30 PM
To complicate a rather uncomplicated approach, the program is also divided into two halves. "Act 1: The Classical Christmas," is the serious half that reflects the highbrow standard of the "Nutcracker" and Handel's "Messiah" and is in keeping with the religious solemnity of the holiday.
"Act 2: The Cool Christmas" is the other Smuin -- Christmas by way of Vegas or "So You Think You Can Dance?" This is where Elvis makes an appearance, bobby-soxers lock their legs in swing routines and a hot cougar tells "Santa Baby" what she wants for Christmas.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 02:32 PM
You couldn’t draw a better lead character than Principal Dancer Seth Orza. With sets and costumes by Where the Wild Things Are author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, PNB’s version of the Nutcracker really does look like a story book come to life. I have seen Orza perform the role of Herr Drosselmeir, a role he plays on other nights this season. He is a perfect Prince and the right man to lead off the season on opening night.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:17 PM
Ms. Goldner began watching Balanchine’s ballets in 1949, danced as a child in the 1954 premiere of his “Nutcracker” and edited two books about several of his productions in the 1970s. She makes both tiny details and large features matter anew; her descriptions are keenly responsive to the characteristics of Balanchine’s style.
While Ms. Goldner knows how miraculous much of his work is, her two books have a beguiling tension. After decades spent living with the ballets, scrutinizing their details on videotape, discussing them with their dancers, and mulling them over at home, she’s still continuing to consider their imperfections or their unsatisfying aspects, while finding that these works enrich her being.
Posted 29 November 2011 - 03:28 PM
Many moments are just downright funny. Two mice run out with a Red Cross stretcher to carry off a fallen comrade. The one black sheep in the Pastorale divertissement is continuously out of step with the five white ones. And one of Grandmère Ballabile’s Polichinelles is too busy milking the audience for applause to notice that everyone else is leaving.
Some of the choreography could use refurbishing. The Spanish divertissement has lost its bite; Russian needs more than three dancers. And the lighting in Arabian is atmospheric to a fault. But the company dances it all as if “The Nutcracker’’ were a serious work of art (which it is) and not just a holiday moneymaker.
Posted 30 November 2011 - 11:46 AM
ENB’s affable director Wayne Eagling asks for a degree of scepticism. “We’re thrilled with Agony and Ecstasy. I guess it polled a 95 per cent positive response, and it’s had a great effect on both our box office and our public image. But we had no editorial control over the end product, and because, inevitably, it needed to be good television and play up controversy and crisis, it over-emphasised a lot of things to the point of misrepresenting them.
“I’m not denying that Derek Deane, for instance, had those explosions. But the dancers know that he’s just being Derek, and most of the time he really isn’t the pantomime ogre he appeared to be.”
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