Saturday, December 10
Posted 10 December 2011 - 10:57 PM
The music at Friday night’s performance of “The Nutcracker” was as familiar as Clara’s dream, and seeing Mother Ginger taking a nip has grown as familiar to contemporary audiences as NaTalia Johnson and Amar Ramasar being listed in the program as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. In fact, one could not help but wonder whether all this familiarity would one day bite Lubbock’s “Nutcracker” in the backside.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:00 PM
Learned also stole the show in “Les Patineurs,” dancing the challenging role of The Blue Boy with just the right head-wiggling, quixotic charm and Victoria Hulland and Ricardo Graziano were lovely as The White Couple, “skating” effortlessly across the stage just like those perfect couples I used to curse as a child when I was sitting on my rear on a Michigan pond.
But both the choreography and the costumes (borrowed from the Birmingham Royal Ballet) seemed a bit precious, as Ashton sometimes does. It was interesting to observe that this perennial favorite, which debuted in 1937, seemed so much more dated than “Rodeo,” which premiered only five years later but still seems fresh and less contrived.
Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:03 PM
In Liturgy, Christopher Wheeldon’s 2003 duet set to Avro Pärt’s mystical score, the choreographer reaches beyond ballet’s more formal boundaries, yet influences of past masters are apparent. Centrally rooted on a dark stage, a distant meditative couple sets free to create breathtaking imagery, made all the more compelling by the dramatic synchronicity of principal dancers Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra.
Closing the program was Twyla Tharp’s 1986 In the Upper Room, with 13 dancers slicing through smoke-filled space, determined to outride Philip Glass’ pulsating score and Tharp’s Olympian demands. Part playful, part sexy, all powerful — the performance (complimented by Norma Kamali’s eccentric costuming) was spectacular, bringing the audience to its feet.
Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:10 PM
July also saw the visit to London of the Mariinsky Ballet. It was the 50th anniversary of the company's first appearance at Covent Garden, and a programme of impeccably danced classics revealed the company's continuing strength in depth. In September, Akram Khan brought the subcontinental monsoon to the stage with Desh, a loving and exasperated portrait of his father's homeland, Bangladesh, and in October London audiences bade an emotional farewell to the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which disbands at the end of its current tour, following its founder's death in 2009.
The year in art, per Laura Cummings in The Guardian.
Degas, viewed solely through his ballet works at the Royal Academy, looked even more radical and mysteriously gifted. In the thrilling late works, where the dancers melt and merge like multi-limbed goddesses in a limelight of violet and flame-blue, he seemed to be moving towards the pure painting of the future.
Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:12 PM
Chief among them is Tatiana Ledovskikh, the company’s prima ballerina and Bolshoi alumna whose Sugar Plum Fairy continues to engage at every level. At opening night on Friday (she reprises the role on Dec. 18), she was the picture of refinement, her slender limbs perfectly positioned and extended, her stage presence compelling. She has found an ideal partner in Nukri Mamistvalov, a tall, thin and muscular Cavalier whose effortless lifts were as natural as his athletic cross-stage fouettes.
Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:17 PM
In Diane et Acteon, from the ballet Esmeralda, Sei Hee Hong, goddess of the hunt Diane falls in love with the brave hunter Acteon. Sei was light and airy; Alfren Salgado, Acteon, established himself (arguably) as the most agile danseur with his astonishing feats multiple pirouettes, fish dives, Jetes and soft landings.
As expected, Lisa Macuja Elizalde’s [color=blue !important][color=blue !important]magnetism[/color][/color], authority and articulate phrasing arrested attention in Manuel Molina’s Light after she parted the curtains for her entrance. Rudy de Dios and [color="blue"][color=blue !important][color=blue !important]Romeo[/color][/color][/color] Peralta followed suit, powerfully dancing in the dramatic pas de trois. The Prayer rendered by singers Celine Dione and Andrea Bocelli as well as the dancers’ languid, measured movements created and sustained the choreography’s deeply reverential air and solemnity. Brief though the number was, Lisa shone as the jewel in the diadem.
Posted 11 December 2011 - 12:28 PM
It's all a long way from the ballet's first performance in Imperial Russia in 1892, when it got its premiere in St Petersburg. Back then the show was not seen as much of a success but, propelled by the music as much as the dance, it gradually grew in popularity. It was first performed in its complete form outside Russia in 1934 in Britain. By the 1960s it had spread to the US and quickly became an annual holiday season tradition.
Posted 11 December 2011 - 12:31 PM
The Chicago Tribune
But Joffrey seems to have envisioned much of Act I as controlled chaos anyway, the rush and tumble of the family scene right out of the typical hullabaloo of a holiday feast. Multiple sets of action constantly vie for attention, the children squabbling over a toy on one side of the stage while important players enter the large welcoming parlor at the other. When the dream world takes over, there's a fantasy battle between the Nutcracker Doll and evil-minded mice, and it has always been a bit cluttered, Joffrey throwing in children from Act II into the mix. This year the staging seemed more clear and focused, followed by a well-executed snow scene that's among the most bewitching in all of ballet.
Time Out Chicago (with photos).
Erin Osmon: I think one thing that really stood out to me this year is how tight and lively the Act I party scene was—it seems as if someone really whipped it into shape. In all my years of dancing in and seeing different versions of The Nutcracker, that’s always the part most likely to drag on.
Zachary Whittenburg: I noticed that, too, and felt the same way about the big ensemble dances, Snow and Flowers. The Joffrey has a new rehearsal director, Nicolas Blanc from San Francisco Ballet, who may have something to do with it. Because absolutely, the production was very tightly danced, from start to finish.
Posted 11 December 2011 - 05:01 PM
The entire production was decked out with lavish, stage-filling sets, and beautifully detailed costumes done in sumptuous colors, both designed by Zack Brown.
The Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, under conductor Pasquale Laurino, vacillated between grand full-orchestra moments and uneven, uncertain exposed passages. A satiny ensemble from the Milwaukee Children's Choir also was heard.
Posted 11 December 2011 - 09:24 PM
He finished his training at the School of American Ballet in New York, the official ballet school of the New York City Ballet, and became an apprentice with the company in 2005. A year later, he joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet.
Today, at 25, he takes the stage at the Lincoln Center in several ballet performances, including nearly every dance part in the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker.”
Posted 11 December 2011 - 09:25 PM
Changing up the dancers has also been part of Steinert's strategy to keep the performance from becoming stale.
Meet Kayla Bartlett, a spunky ballerina with an infectious smile who's thrilled to play the lead role of Clara for the first time. She's also the company's newest hire, having joined in September.
Posted 13 December 2011 - 11:34 AM
Afterward, we presented our son with a nutcracker of his own -- his first, of what I hope will be a collection, born of a holiday tradition. This worthy status, as an annual tradition for families, you might say, makes The Nutcracker a seed, that once planted, can yield a forest of creativity and a deep and abiding appreciation for the arts.
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