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George Balanchine's The Nutcracker2011 performances in Arsht and Broward


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#1 Jack Reed

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 08:26 PM

I've just seen the 21st December performance in Broward and although I don't want to sound snide, subjectively I found it an effective antidote for the NYCB Live from Lincoln Center one last week, which put me quite off. It wasn't just that the camera work and editing were superior (I had a good seat) but the amplitude, presence and musical vitality of the dancing, from the nuance and finesse of Mary Carmen Catoya's "Sugar Plum" (with the excellent Renato Penteado) and Jeannette Delgado's lovely and strong "Dew Drop" right down through the ranks. (The little Prince awoke Marie on her bed not by grabbing her shoulder and shaking her, but by touching it and raising his arm in an arc over his head down to his side - an expressive gesture - "arise!" - and appropriate.*)

I do have some quibbles about scenic matters. In the first scene, we need to see the action in the parlor behind the scrim representing the hallway wall, and we do, but we would get more if also we still saw the scrim, too, especially in the opening business where Marie and Fritz take turns looking through the keyhole at the party preparations, and then, less importantly, near the end of the scene, where Frau Stahlbaum passes down the hall and enters the parlor a moment later. Alan Adelman's lighting - at least as it is realized here - makes the wall disappear completely, but my experience watching the NYCB production over the years shows how much more effective it is if the scrim is still faintly visible while we see the action in the parlor.

And while Haydee Morales's costumes are mostly effective if not an improvement on Karinska's - Karinska could overdo, but she was usually hard to beat - I think the dancers' legs are too much concealed by the skirts in the "Waltz of the Flowers" and by a kind of short train in "Coffee", which ends with the dancer on her stomach with her leg raised behind her. The train wraps the leg, instead of letting us see the toe pointed upward as punctation, like the period at the end of a sentence. Or, in this case, like an exclamation point! No boring sentence, this dance, although Patricia Delgado's rendition this evening seemed more stiffly upright than I prefer.

"Coffee" is preceded by "Hot Chocolate", and I should record that Reyneres Reyes substituted for Isanusi-Garcia Rodriguez. Here again, I thought the dancers were a little "overdressed," so their dances were less effective.

Not so well-costumed Kleber Rebello, leading "Tea"; his downstage leaps got the good hand from the audience they deserved. But then, good as this short diversion is, it was immediately upstaged by "Candy Canes", a more elaborate dance very ably brought off by Renan Cerdeiro and eight girls. Building this way from strength to strength is the way Balanchine's Nutcracker goes - or Balanchine and Ivanov's, I suppose I should say, as Balanchine is on record as remembering "Candy Canes" from the performances he gave in his childhood in St. Petersburgh, when it was attributed to Ivanov, and using that choreography.

This acrobatic dance offers that kind of excitement, but I like even better, speaking of building and building, the excitement of something which is beautiful to the point of exciting, and a harbinger of that came with Jennifer Lauren and her four girls, "Marzipan Shepherdesses".

I want to mention Chase Swatosh as Mother Commedia, as Mother Ginger is called here, for expressive upper body, including outstretched arms waving about, as though to encompass the whole stage now enlivened by the Polichinelles, which I found a happy contrast with the stiff effect, or lack of it, really, of the same character in the NYCB broadcast last week (a portable copy of which my recorder wouldn't give me so I can't name the dancer).

But any account of this ballet would be remiss without mention of Yann Trividic, the superb Herr Drosselmeier who slides into action over and over to move the first scene along. Tall, Trividic makes his every gesture clearly legible and meaningful, filling his role and the stage when it's his moment. A very effective "MC" and just a little spooky, too! The life-size toys he brings in, Nathalia Arja, Shimon Ito, and Kleber Rebello, were all fine, although their costumes, especially the harlequin pair, were better in the NYCB production. (Morales favors small, blue designs which don't read so well over the distance.)


*Tchaikovsky's direction to the choreographer here is a soft cymbal crash.

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 05:13 PM

Thanks Jack for the report. Balanchine's Nutcracker is definitely becoming a favorite of mine more and more. Every time I want to "get" the Christmas spirit at home I put on either his magnificent Snow Scene or the Waltz of the Flowers from the DVD-(two of the most beautiful corps scene I've ever seen during my entire balletic viewing life, side by side with Petipa's Shades scene and the Fugue of the Willis from Giselle). Those two plus Wright's staging of Petipa's Grand Pas with Dowel and Collier are definitely in my top five ballet sequences of all time.
Anyway...I will write a little more when I have the time. I'm still planning to attend at least to one more performance at Broward, so I guess I'll see you there, Jack..!
Just one anticipated word before my full review from the run at the Arsht. Jeannette Delgado as Dewdrop...WOOOOOOOOOOOW!! Posted Image

#3 bart

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 06:04 PM

Thanks, Jack. Jeanette Delgado is my favorite Dewdrop, too. I'd love to do a side-by-side comparison with Ashley Bouder.

This year MCB didn't bring Nutcracker to Palm Beach County. The only weekend dates available are in November and ticket sales were weak for Nuts that early in the season. Wish they had gotten some of Ballet Florida's 2 weeks in mid-December, when that company folded, and their excellent and popular Nutcracker had to close shop. As it is, we're stuck with a return of the mediocre Russian-edition Nutcracker from the company advertised as "Moscow Classical Ballet." I'll pass on that.

Catoya is definitely a queenly Sugar Plum. I've also liked Kronenberg and Delgado in that role. Each has her own warmth, charm and character, but at least they HAVE warmth, charm and character.

Haven't seen Trividic's Drosselmeyer, but can imagine just how "spooky" he must have been. Those long elastic arms and legs, the piercing eyes, and all that stage intelligence. He's a natural character dancer.

Rebello, Ito, and Arja were so good in Square Dance that I would have loved to see them as the dancing toys. (Arja was also remarkably effective as Sugar Plum Fairy last season, though only an apprentice at the time.)

Like you, I was underwhelmed by the NYCB Mother Ginger. Especially considering how amazing his/her kids were. (Maybe that was the point -- to make you focus on the kids by presenting the mother as almost a cipher.) I'm glad Chase Swatosh impressed you so much. He's only an apprentice, but he is already a confident and very interesting dancer and thoroughly at home on the stage.

Swatosh was praised by the NY Times for a couple of student performances in his final year at SAB. He was impressive in Paul Taylor's Promethean Fire dkuring his first MCB season last year. In Balanchine corps role, he more than holds his own.

So far this season, I have seen him only in the second cast of In the Upper Room, where he reminded me of Daniel Baker a couple of seasons ago. (Both were Stompers.) How old can Swatosh be? 19? 20? There's lots of potential there.

#4 Jack Reed

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:04 PM

This (Thursday) evening's "Sugar Plum" turned out to be Arja, who was admirably light and delicate but not the completely realized incorporeal Catoya, a real fairy. (They don't exist, but you can see this one.) Mary Carmen Catoya is totally from a different plane, a latter-day Sylph of sorts. Tricia Albertson's "Dew Drop" was better than creditable, but also suffered some in the comparison with opening night's cast. Shimon Ito's "Candy Canes" seemed to me to have it over Cerdeiro in the buoyant, crisp clarity department, and Maya Collins let us see her raised foot at the end of "Coffee"! (Not Patricia D.'s fault last night, as I tried to make clear; indeed having reviewed that part of the 1993 DVD, I see the trailing fabric is maybe a foot shorter there. But Catoya, leading "Hot Chocolate" (with Reyes again tonight), didn't let the excessive yardage subdue her spirits in the number, and her sharp, clear dancing gave me several chuckles, not least afterward - as she pranced off to the wings after her own applause, she whipped her voluminous skirt against her leg, and I thought, Spanish!; and taking applause with the rest at the end, she came out and hopped around to face us, instead of just turning on her foot.

In Act I, Penteado's Stahlbaum was the most stylish - yet not foppish - I've ever seen, and Bramaz's Drosselmeier was lighter than Trividic's had been, and so less commanding, but still effective. (Trividic was the Mouse King this evening. Does somebody see this guy as a "heavy"?)

#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 08:17 PM

Swatosh was praised by the NY Times for a couple of student performances in his final year at SAB. He was impressive in Paul Taylor's Promethean Fire dkuring his first MCB season last year. In Balanchine corps role, he more than holds his own.

So far this season, I have seen him only in the second cast of In the Upper Room, where he reminded me of Daniel Baker a couple of seasons ago. (Both were Stompers.) How old can Swatosh be? 19? 20? There's lots of potential there.


Swatosh is the new "pretty blond boy" of the company, a role flled out by Baker in the past. For some reason I think he will be mostly casted in character roles. I hope 'm proven wrong here...

#6 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:39 PM

This evening's (Friday's) performance brought back Trividic's powerful Drosselmeier to Act I, a robustly beautiful "Sugar Plum" from Jeannette Delgado which however did not rise to the heights of Catoya's Wednesday evening, and the most satisfying "Coffee" (in Ft. Lauderdale) so far, Suzanne Limbrunner. As for Catoya herself, she substituted for Patricia Delgado as "Dew Drop", and I was delighted to see her, as always, for her light, complete, vital dancing, even if she was a little off her music in places and cut a few moves: For instance, where she comes down the diagonal to audience left and then backs up, making a kind of arabesque on little hops, she did two instead of the usual six. (When something is of high quality, the lapses stand out more...) And speaking of substitutions, Didier Bramaz, this evening's Stahlbaum, subbed for Isanusi-Garcia Rodriguez in "Hot Chocolate", with Maya Collins, who was certainly adequate - this is MCB, after all - but not comparable to the generally incomparable Catoya last night.

#7 dirac

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:49 PM

I've just seen the 21st December performance in Broward and although I don't want to sound snide, subjectively I found it an effective antidote for the NYCB Live from Lincoln Center one last week, which put me quite off.

Thanks for the report - good reading. I was very pleased to have the television broadcast, though.

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 08:52 PM

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]Just came from tonight’s run of the Nutcracker in Broward. Here are some thoughts:[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Glad to run again into Mr. Jack Reed..! (Hey there…I might see you back again tomorrow)[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Act I[/font]
[font=Times New Roman]This year I decided to sit upstairs, so I could take a different view of the corps, and glad I did..! The ballet is an entirely new thing when watched from up there. I never realized how HIGHLY CHOREOGRAPHED the whole thing is…including the ballroom and battle scenes. [/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE PARTY SCENE[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The ballroom sequence is definitely delightful. To see how Balanchine creates this vintage feeling to perfection, how he integrates the children in such organic ways into the action is just a marvel. Never have I seen a production that tells so much about the life in such high class environment. Particularly interesting is how he makes the kids dance along the adults without looking too affected or unreal. I’ve seen many other productions where even adult dancers never look as comfortable in such choreographed situations. Balanchine’s party scene is being studied to the ultimate detail, including social classes differences little touches here and there-(like the way everybody, including the children, hand their coats to the female servants without even looking at them sometimes). One can tell that these are children in training to make their future insertion in society easily and with complete success, sort of miniature ladies and gentlemen.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE BATTLE SCENE[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The battle scene was another discovery. How is that I never saw all those lines and diagonals and the quasi mathematical moving of bodies, both of the mice and the soldiers…? At one moment I even thought..”This is as complex as the Waltz of the Flowers!” …and sure it is…From orchestra one can only see lots of running onstage, but from upstairs the designs come to life…Balanchine really uses lots of space to accommodate his designs, and the battle is no exception. Again…the vintage feeling is here too…the costume designs of the soldiers are lovely…they really look like those old cartoons from the 40’s. Kudos to the kids, and my highest respect for them and their ballet master. They were rehearsed to PERFECTION.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE SNOW SCENE[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]What can I say but just to reinforce my total devotion to this little jewel of corps choreography…? If anything, I wish Balanchine would have used many, many, many more dancers to make this marvel of scene even grander. Again, from upstairs this is a completely new choreography. [/font]
[font=Times New Roman]Note: Thank you, whoever is in charge, for returning the snow balls hand devices to the ballerinas. In past years there were substituted by silvery branches, and the effect wasn’t the same. That aside from the fact that the snow balls things are a direct link to the Imperial production designs, as we can see from the pic in “Apollo’s Angels”.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Act II[/font]
[font=Times New Roman]I have only one complain about the introduction, which I have voiced before in this board, and is the fact that Balanchine changes the roles of the parade girls from its original matryoshka dolls form to angels. Then also, it is never explained-(at least in this production and in this city)-that this are the Nutcracker’s sisters welcoming their brother back to the kingdom. A little clarification and background story would be nice, particularly for the non connoisseur audience.[/font]
[font=Times New Roman]And here comes my biggest disappointment from Balanchine’s staging. The dis-articulation of the Grand Pas de Deux. As we all know, now the Sugar Plum Fairy dances the well known Pas’ “celesta variation”, and in my humble opinion, here Balanchine’s own choreographic ideas never came close to the beauty of the original one, so well preserved in some other productions around the world. The Sugar Plum Fairy anticipated variation is rather bland, although nice to watch but nothing for which the ballerina can really make a statement. [/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE DIVERTISSEMENTS.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The Spanish Dance is great. I’m not a real fan of character shoes in ballet-(they rather bore me)-and so Balanchine's’ pointe work preference here is definitely welcomed. The leads were danced by Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez-(a very underused principal, IMO)-and a rather stiff Maya Collins-(or was she substituted …? Help me here, Jack![/font]
[font=Times New Roman]The Arabian Dance is another topic I want to discuss a little. In this era of many popular belly dancing and circus contortionists inspired choreographies for this dvertissement, it is great to see such subtle and elegant rendition of what we can see as a fantasy of an eastern dance. One never see a bit of any sexual/pelvic gestures as it is so popular in many productions nowadays, or the never ending lifts and rollings of snake-like ballerinas on top of male dancers, sometimes more proper of a modern harem than that of a treat from Confiterinburg. Balanchine’s coffee looks like taken out of one of those old films, where Hollywood actresses moved and danced just as that…as American women imitating to their best foreign dances and gestures. Still, just getting to see again that the “vintage” feeling has been preserved is a nice touch. I’m sick and tired of vulgar odalisques dancing to the children exposing their crotch open wide.[/font]

To be continued…[/size]

#9 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 03:42 AM

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]Just came from tonight’s run of the Nutcracker in Broward. Here are some thoughts:[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Glad to run again into Mr. Jack Reed..! (Hey there…I might see you back again tomorrow)[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Act I[/font]
[font=Times New Roman]This year I decided to sit upstairs, so I could take a different view of the corps, and glad I did..! The ballet is an entirely new thing when watched from up there. I never realized how HIGHLY CHOREOGRAPHED the whole thing is…including the ballroom and battle scenes. [/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE PARTY SCENE[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The ballroom sequence is definitely delightful. To see how Balanchine creates this vintage feeling to perfection, how he integrates the children in such organic ways into the action is just a marvel. Never have I seen a production that tells so much about the life in such high class environment. Particularly interesting is how he makes the kids dance along the adults without looking too affected or unreal. I’ve seen many other productions where even adult dancers never look as comfortable in such choreographed situations. Balanchine’s party scene is being studied to the ultimate detail, including social classes differences little touches here and there-(like the way everybody, including the children, hand their coats to the female servants without even looking at them sometimes). One can tell that these are children in training to make their future insertion in society easily and with complete success, sort of miniature ladies and gentlemen.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE BATTLE SCENE[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The battle scene was another discovery. How is that I never saw all those lines and diagonals and the quasi mathematical moving of bodies, both of the mice and the soldiers…? At one moment I even thought..”This is as complex as the Waltz of the Flowers!” …and sure it is…From orchestra one can only see lots of running onstage, but from upstairs the designs come to life…Balanchine really uses lots of space to accommodate his designs, and the battle is no exception. Again…the vintage feeling is here too…the costume designs of the soldiers are lovely…they really look like those old cartoons from the 40’s. Kudos to the kids, and my highest respect for them and their ballet master. They were rehearsed to PERFECTION.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE SNOW SCENE[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]What can I say but just to reinforce my total devotion to this little jewel of corps choreography…? If anything, I wish Balanchine would have used many, many, many more dancers to make this marvel of scene even grander. Again, from upstairs this is a completely new choreography. [/font]
[font=Times New Roman]Note: Thank you, whoever is in charge, for returning the snow balls hand devices to the ballerinas. In past years there were substituted by silvery branches, and the effect wasn’t the same. That aside from the fact that the snow balls things are a direct link to the Imperial production designs, as we can see from the pic in “Apollo’s Angels”.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Act II[/font]
[font=Times New Roman]I have only one complain about the introduction, which I have voiced before in this board, and is the fact that Balanchine changes the roles of the parade girls from its original matryoshka dolls form to angels. Then also, it is never explained-(at least in this production and in this city)-that this are the Nutcracker’s sisters welcoming their brother back to the kingdom. A little clarification and background story would be nice, particularly for the non connoisseur audience.[/font]
[font=Times New Roman]And here comes my biggest disappointment from Balanchine’s staging. The dis-articulation of the Grand Pas de Deux. As we all know, now the Sugar Plum Fairy dances the well known Pas’ “celesta variation”, and in my humble opinion, here Balanchine’s own choreographic ideas never came close to the beauty of the original one, so well preserved in some other productions around the world. The Sugar Plum Fairy anticipated variation is rather bland, although nice to watch but nothing for which the ballerina can really make a statement. [/font]

[font=Times New Roman]THE DIVERTISSEMENTS.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]The Spanish Dance is great. I’m not a real fan of character shoes in ballet-(they rather bore me)-and so Balanchine's’ pointe work preference here is definitely welcomed. The leads were danced by Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez-(a very underused principal, IMO)-and a rather stiff Maya Collins-(or was she substituted …? Help me here, Jack![/font]
[font=Times New Roman]The Arabian Dance is another topic I want to discuss a little. In this era of many popular belly dancing and circus contortionists inspired choreographies for this dvertissement, it is great to see such subtle and elegant rendition of what we can see as a fantasy of an eastern dance. One never see a bit of any sexual/pelvic gestures as it is so popular in many productions nowadays, or the never ending lifts and rollings of snake-like ballerinas on top of male dancers, sometimes more proper of a modern harem than that of a treat from Confiterinburg. Balanchine’s coffee looks like taken out of one of those old films, where Hollywood actresses moved and danced just as that…as American women imitating to their best foreign dances and gestures. Still, just getting to see again that the “vintage” feeling has been preserved is a nice touch. I’m sick and tired of vulgar odalisques dancing to the children exposing their crotch open wide.[/font]

To be continued…[/size]



[font=georgia,serif]Christian, one of the joys of watching Balanchine ballets over the years at the NYS Theater is that ALL of his ballets look new from different points in the theater. The designs, diagonals, complex corps movements, etc. all become revelations from new seats. For me the greatest examples are "Symphony in 3 Movements" and "Stravinsky Violin Concerto," but then, those are my favorite ballets.[/font]

[font=georgia,serif]I would love to hear more about Maya Collins from all of you down in FL., I always enjoyed her warm smile, and her line. I'll miss her in NY, but will follow your reports. She's one of those dancers that I feel has untapped dramatic abilities as well. [/font]What do you think?

#10 bart

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:36 AM

Jack, Christian: I love reading your detailed descriptions. They help me "see" these dancers again, from previous seasons.

Everyone seems to be impressed by the complex staging of the Party Scene. MCB's children are, as I recall, quite wonderful. NYCB's are almost uncannily skilled. (Lots of practice and lots of performing time, as compared with other companies.)

Nancy Goldner's chapter on Nutcracker, in Balanchine Variations, has a few interesting insights on the process by which the children's roles have become as fixed and detailed as those of the adults:

When I was a child in the party sscene, our movements about the stage were looser. Today, every gesture is set in stone. I miss some of the rough edges and spontaneity of the early years, although our relative freedom probably made for a messy-looking stage picture at times.

I guess that matters like these always involve a trade-off.

Some questions on MCB this year:

1) How was the orchestra? I'm especially interested about tempo, given the non-stop rapidity of the NYCB filmed version.

2) How were Marie and the Prince? I'm thinking especially of (a) Marie's involvement in the battle with the mice and (b) the Prince's Act Two mime sequence. Last year at the Kravis these were among the highlights of the performance I saw.

#11 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:38 AM

Briefly, and a little hastily, again, there were subs announced last night over the PA: Not for Collins, whose stiffness cubanmiamiboy and I agree on, that's partly why I gave her faint praise this time, but for her partner, who was Bramaz this time. Speaking of Collins's dramatic abilities, ViolinConcerto, she was also cast as one of the Parents among the guests of Act I, although this doesn't necessarily give the dancer that much scope for drama, and not recognizing her I can't report. (There are some "dramatic" shortcomings in Act I among the younger cast. The "boys", who are girls, except for Fritz, tend to make their play and game movements flowing and dancey, even though it may be "leapfrog" they're enacting.)

But while I welcome cubanmiamiboy's remarks about sitting upstairs, the downside is that I didn't think of it myself! I have the feeling I would like to see more performances of this, and next time I have the chance, I'll add in a few front-balcony locations. (With "The Board"s action to terminate Villella, who knows about those future opportunities? All I picked up about that was that anger and dismay are common among the other regulars in the audience, too.)

But I do like a downstairs seat when a favorite is on, and when Mary Carmen Catoya turned up as "Dew Drop" last night, I was glad I was there.

P.S. Cristian, is that original SPF pas de deux to be seen on the Internet? Could you post a link for us? Thanks.

#12 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 06:51 AM

bart, the "orchestra" is recorded, but pretty good, though as usual in that case, uncredited. ("Coffee" plays her own antique cymbals, though!)

Marie (Margarita Amas) and the Prince (Eran Kornfeld) are fine, but I'm not sure that the Prince has the right pantomime going. (With only Macaulay Culkin's performance with me as a point of comparison, It's hard to tell.) But I think I've seen it "spoken" more clearly, maybe as recently as Ballet Chicago last weekend, although that production mostly originates with Duell and Blair, except for Mr. B's pas de deux, and so makes a poor comparison also.

#13 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 11:28 AM

P.S. Cristian, is that original SPF pas de deux to be seen on the Internet? Could you post a link for us? Thanks.


Sure...! I've done it several times, but I'm alway glad to promote it in every opportunity...

Sir Peter Wright's staging, after Karsavina's Imperial performances recollections.


Alonso's staging, after Fedorova's Imperial performances recollections and Markova's memories from Sergueev staging.


#14 Jack Reed

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 07:54 PM

Thanks, Cristian. I hadn't realizes the Feijoo-Molina pas was up in such a good video, compared to one I saved some time ago.

I tried to try your idea of looking at the patterns from above, but didn't realize the lower balcony in the Au-Rene Theater is actually the upper balcony, so that's where I wound up, having asked for a first-balcony ticket, pretty high and far from the stage; I think the Mezzanine is the place to try. Have you been there?

And considering that it would be my last chance to see Mary Carmen Catoya, as Dew Drop, this afternoon (Saturday), I decided to postpone appreciating the patterns in the "Waltz of the Flowers" from on high until some other time, God willing, and I took my orchestra seat to see her to the best advantage. (She related better to the music this time, I thought.)

But the high viewpoint does make plain the beautifully shifting floor patterns Balanchine has made for, for example, the Snow scene, and the theater is not so huge that this corps' beautifully clear articulation of the footwork in the coda cannot be enjoyed.

Otherwise, the main thing to report is Tricia Albertson's Sugar Plum, with Reyes, which was more interesting than merely perfect, although she certainly seemed to reach a high degree of that. Christie Sciturro's take on "Coffee" was an interesting combination of warm generosity and cool disdain, unfurling the dance thoroughly across the stage, though I still think I was happiest with Suzanne Limbrunner last night. And Rodriguez has returned to "Hot Chocolate".

Speaking of absences, I gather that Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra were absent for the best of reasons: A series of guest appearances.

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 04:04 PM

Allow me to pick this thread up right where I left it, mid Act II

Tea.

Love, love, LOVE this divertissement. It totally used to be owned by Mr. sky high jumper Alex Wong. Now the honor belongs to Kleber Rebello, nothing short of Wong's spectacular Grand Ecartes. In a different cast, Shimon Ito wasn't up to Rebello's hyper extensions and ballon.
Anyhow, Balanchine wins hands down this time.

Marzipan Shepherdesses.

This is a very cute piece in Balanchine's staging, although at one point the female lead spends several bars of music just kneeling and waving her arms or even standing up changing poses. Here I much prefer some other versions where there's a couple, the bailarin playing with her ballerina scaring her while disguised as a wolf-(Baryshnikov's...?)-or even Vainonen's rococo inspired Pas de Trois for children. Still, Balanchine's has beautiful choreographic moments, like the series of sautés on pointe for the lead ballerina. Here's one of the few stands where I think Hayde Morales' costume designs didn't win, for which I much prefer the Reeses look alike from Kirstler's DVD. From the three castings I attended, it was bubbly Sara Esty who danced it more beautifully.

Mother Commedia .

I must confess I used to be reluctant to this divertissement, as it was completely alien to me, being omitted in Alonso's production. More and more I've grown fond of it, and right now I'm really loving it. What I find amazing about it is that Balanchine uses choreography that mirrors adult dancing, including all those lovely courtsies and reverences, or the little ones burreing in demi-pointe. Chase Swatosh, just as Jack noted, was great on the role. The ballet really comes alive during this segment...is is a very happy moment, and a nice hor d'oeuvre for everybody's favorite next big moment...the ubiquitous Dewdrop and her garland of flowers.

Waltz of the Flowers.

Another definitive Imperial flavored moment. Lovely, grand, MAGNIFICENT! Morales designs are sublime..they remind me of a beautiful flower we have in Cuba-( maybe there are here also, but I've never seen them)-; the Marpacific. The breaking and formation of patters here are just amazing...the moment when all the flowers lay on the floor row by row to them stand up just as when the real flowers bloom...aah, marvelous.
I saw three different ballerinas here also, the always reliable Tricia Albertson, who doesn't do less or more than what's expected, Mary Carmen Catoya, who nailed her attitude turns like no one else and Jeanette Delgado, my own diva...(can I praise her a little more...? Posted Image ). Of course, I'm all for Delgado here, but I must agree with Jack about Catoya. She's in better form than ever. The flowers were soldiers in perfection. Bravis!


To be continued...


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