cubanmiamiboy

Nutcracker 2012

38 posts in this topic

This are the scheduled performances of MCB's Nut. So...WPB doesn't get a run...? Never had in the past...? dunno.gif That's a bit strange.

Naples Philharmonic Center

November 24-25, 2012

Friday, November 23 at 8pm

Saturday, November 24 at 2pm & 8pm

Sunday, November 25 at 2pm

Broward Center

December 14-16, 2012

Friday, December 14 at 7:30pm

Saturday, December 15 at 2pm & 7:30pm

Sunday, December 16 at 1pm & 6:30pm

Adrienne Arsht Center

December 20-24, 2012

Thursday, December 20 at 7:30pm

Friday, December 21 at 2pm & 7:30 pm

Saturday, December 22 at 2pm & 7:30pm

Sunday, December 23 at 1pm & 6:30pm

Monday, December 24 at 1pm

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It's another occasion to think that the marketers are trying to sell something they don't get themselves. Remember when they used the line, "More snow!" to promote The Nutcracker? I thought that was pretty lame at the time. They may be right, but since then, they've abandoned the PWB venue for Nutcracker. Maybe watching it snow just isn't an attractive concept to Floridians? (How would I know?)

For me, The Nutcracker is an all-Balanchine mixed bill, with corps numbers both cool and warm, character dances in many modes and moods, and a spectacular pas de deux in romantic style, not to mention doll-dancing and old-time children's games, all growing out of some of the most popular classical music written.

But as we know, ballet marketers won't go near people who already enjoy the kind of music most ballet is danced to, and won't try to tell people what to expect if they come. (They tell people it's hard. Going for the college-wrestling fans? How likely are they to come back? But, "get 'em in and hope they like it" is a quote from a marketer I talked to. Some strategy!) Some of the better critics do, though, bless 'em.

I'll credit the "Broadway" connotation with trying to lift Nutcracker out of the for-kids reputation it may have. In any case, this grown-up will be looking on during the Broward run you've posted.

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This are the scheduled performances of MCB's Nut. So...WPB doesn't get a run...? Never had in the past...? dunno.gif That's a bit strange.

Miami had a brief run of Nutcrackers in West Palm Beach for several seasons a number of years ago. There were scheduling problems, however. Ballet Florida's own very effective and popular million-dollar production rented the Kravis Center for almost three weeks right before Christmas. That meant that MCB got stuck with a few performance dates in late November, which did not sell well.

After Ballet Florida folded, MCB brought the Balanchine version back for one or two seasons), but that too was early in the season. Ticket sales were disappointing, so the production has not returned..

For a couple of years, the Kravis has been presenting the Moscow Classical Ballet's touring Nutcracker right before Christmas. I've seen it once but will be passing on it in the future.

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For a couple of years, the Kravis has been presenting the Moscow Classical Ballet's touring Nutcracker right before Christmas. I've seen it once but will be passing on it in the future.

(Words of one syllable, as they say.)

So, come on down, bart!

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This are the scheduled performances of MCB's Nut. So...WPB doesn't get a run...? Never had in the past...? dunno.gif That's a bit strange.

Miami had a brief run of Nutcrackers in West Palm Beach for several seasons a number of years ago. There were scheduling problems, however. Ballet Florida's own very effective and popular million-dollar production rented the Kravis Center for almost three weeks right before Christmas. That meant that MCB got stuck with a few performance dates in late November, which did not sell well.

After Ballet Florida folded, MCB brought the Balanchine version back for one or two seasons), but that too was early in the season. Ticket sales were disappointing, so the production has not returned..

For a couple of years, the Kravis has been presenting the Moscow Classical Ballet's touring Nutcracker right before Christmas. I've seen it once but will be passing on it in the future.

I liked that Ballet Florida Nutcracker! One time when I went a guy proposed to one of the ballet dancers at the end and it made the front page of the Palm Beach Post. I wonder if that would make a front page today! LOL

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"Like a Broadway spectacular,..." Why?!, I mean...why? Isn't the ballet idea so..."whatever" so the performance has to be compared to Brodway to be appealing...? Aggh...wallbash.gif

http://www.miamicity.../nutcracker.php

Same problem in opera, Cristian. Lyric Opera of Chicago had really silly phrases to describe each opera this season on its site (they seem to be removed now). I guess it was an attempt to make the operas sound "cool" and "relevant" to non-opera lovers. I really don't know what the thinking was. Just guessing. Marketing people are always trying to do this. I hate it too, but they are desperately trying to find what works to get people in the seats in a bad economy. They are not reaching out to someone who already loves the art form. They are trying to reach people who know nothing about it and might be tempted to try it. It is sad they are forced to resort to these tactics though.

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Is The Nutcracker for kids?

I've only just glanced at the Nutcracker page on the MCB web site Cristian calls attention to, and I hope to say more abut it, but meantime here's parts of another commentary on The Nutcracker, not Balanchine's actually, but Ivanov's, supposedly, presented by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in New York in 1944. It's a little heavy on Freud (which I've mostly left out for brevity's sake) and light on Tchaikovsky for me, but not much; and it may be "too intelligent" (*sigh*) for the general public today, even though it ran in the New York Herald Tribune at the time, so I don't propose it as a substitute for the MCB website's tedious long blurb, but as an antidote for that for us ballet fans. Of course, it's by the Tribune's regular dance critic in those days, Edwin Denby:

… … …

If you are curious about choreography, you find that the dance logic of The Nutcracker is solid and that the nonsense plot - its idea content - has a rational structure too. The intentions of The Nutcracker, when you catch on, are humane and sensible, and its 1890 formal method is highly intelligent.

What is the method? This is what happens on stage. The long first scene is a clear pantomime story. The dance is plain, realistic, without embellishments, it does not lead to leaps; it is all terre-a-terre. The second and third scenes, in contrast to the first, tell hardly any story; instead they are dancing that clearly looks like dancing, with steps in patterns, leaps and lifts, dancing with "elevation." The two dance scenes are made up of successive dance numbers, each with a beginning and an ending, each a set piece, all of them together arranged in a suite ending with an ensemble finale.

… … …

At the start of the piece, the effect of the pantomime scene - sadistic in content for all its upper-class Christmas-party manners - is gloomy and oppressed; the dancers don't really get off the floor. What a relief when the dancing begins with leaps and airy lifts in the next snow scene. But the choreography here preserves a coolness and remoteness that doesn't quite satisfy. The third, last scene is friendlier, lighter, more open to the audience, more animated, more playful in detail, and in the end there is a happy sense that everyone on the stage has leaped about freely and sufficiently. So they can all stop and smile straight at you, looking pretty without the least embarrassment.

And there is another unconscious satisfaction in the sequence of the dances. For the strictness of bodily control inherent in dance virtuosity, a strictness that grows more exacting as the dance becomes more animated and complex, seems at the end a satisfactory sublimation for the savagely cruel impulses suggested in the disturbing pantomime opening of the piece. And so The Nutcracker is really a dream abut Christmas, since it succeeds in turning envy and pain into lovely invention and social harmony.

… … ...

"[H]umane and sensible." Exactly. That is why I think The Nutcracker, one like this one anyway, is for adults. Today, more than ever. Kids may well be unhappy by intermission time, coming after the second scene. Their adult companions should know that the whole thing brightens up and gets happy. Does MCB's PR tell them that?

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I find that the second act for kids needs to be over before the Grand Pas de Deux: Waltz of the Flowers seems to be their limit before the kicking and squirming and probably hunger start. Like clockwork last Sunday afternoon, a couple with a two-year old got up and left right then. (Sometimes, we're not so lucky.)

A lot of productions aim for the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" approach: loved by kids, but with enough smarts that the adults get it on another level.

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Having grown with a derivative staging of The BRMC version, hence not with kids in mind, not a "show for the entire family" affair, I'm happy with the idea of conveying the weight of the ballet in people's minds around the three central ballerinas and their respective formal dances. Momentum keeps growing in the sense that Clara does dance less than Snow Queen, whom dances less than Fee Dragee. Actually the whole thing, the entire ballet becomes an anticipation that leads in relief to the Gran Pas, and the very design of the fairy not being present onstage just until the very end, makes her debut even more dangerous...the dancing couple KNOWS that they better put on an excellent show, for which all those balletomanes are essentially there for them-(for HER more than for him, actually...ballet is woman, let's remember...happy.png )

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14th December, Friday evening, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Just back and fading, as the hour is late, but for me the highlights of Act I were Yann Trividic's Drosselmeier, performed with, among other things, wonderful flourishes and general mastery of the part, and the entire Snow Scene, generally enlivened by MCB's superb corps, and of Act II, Callie Manning's Coffee. Yes, I know, Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop are supposed to be the hits of this Act, and as performed by the Delgado sisters, Patricia and Jeanette respectively, they were more than creditable - much more, including in particular Carlos Guerra as Patricia D.'s Cavalier - just as there were other very fine performances in Act I. This is MCB, after all, and Patricia D. in particular brought a lovely suppleness to her role right away in her early Variation, in addition to the evident strength both dancers have, but Manning's realization - of a simpler part, perhaps - seemed quite wonderful, even bringing to it an edge of wit at the last, so that I found it the most completely satisfying.

For distant lurkers unfamiliar with this production of Balanchine's ballet, I might mention an interpolation - after the end of the Snow scene, "Little Princess" and "Little Prince" as Marie and Fritz have become, according to a change of costume here and change of part name in the cast list for Act II, board a sleigh which is pushed off-stage audience right by Drosselmeier, who pantomimes skating movements. Their sleigh arrives upstage in Act II pushed out of the same wing by two dancers in brown, who look to be part of the "Hot Chocolate" cast.

How would it be if their sleigh came out of the audience-left wing in Act II? Would that tell us they had continued in the same direction and finally reached The Land of Sweets after travelling a great distance from the Pine Forest? The way it is shows the reality of what's happening: They're re-entering the same space after it's been changed; the fantasy is that they've reached a new place entirely, and fantasy is what this is all about. It's what we're here for. Give us more of it, Ms. Lopez!

Edited by Jack Reed

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Thanks for the link, brokenwing! Of course, like any cast list, it's a little out of date as soon as it's published: This afternoon's performance had Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez subbing for Renan Cerdeiro in "Hot Chocolate", for one example. But I'm glad to see it, anyway: Arja's and Lauren's "Sugar Plum"! That's interesting, and I'm looking forward to a couple more of Charles Swatosh's "Mother Commedias" - he looked very good again it it this afternoon - and Yann Trividic's "Drosselmeiers", too. Guerra as "Drosselmeier" looks like casting against type, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

This afternoon's "Drosselmeier," Didier Bramaz, disappointed only a little by comparison with Trividic's last night, I thought. Then again, I chose to sit in the center of the Mezzanine, a little far, but very good for appreciation of the patterns in the Snow scene and the Waltz of the Flowers, not to mention the party scene. And it helped a lot for appreciation of Tchaikovsky's great music too - it sounded much better from upstairs than it did from row Q in the Orchestra.

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15th December, Saturday evening

Some nice surprises: I gather Guerra has done Drosselmeier before, but, whatever, his conception seems grander, on a larger scale, than Trividic's, even to the amplitude of his gesture and movement, which does not look quicker, though; since all three performers, performing as they are to the same recording, have exactly the same time, what Guerra is doing here - moving more in the same time without moving faster - is, of course, impossible. But watching ballet performance on this level often seems to present the impossible, and make it look almost natural. Trividic may catch a little more of the sinister in this part, Guerra evokes a little more of the supernatural, and I count myself fortunate to have seen both.

And I enjoyed Tricia Albertson's dancing more tonight than I often do. In particular, there is a circle in the Sugar Plum coda she made just glitter, by revealing Balanchine's response to a sparkling passage in Tchaikovsky with her customary crystalline clarity. Nothing additionally flashy about her, though; she revealed what was there, and it was just what was needed.

And I had expected to be pleased in some way by Zoe Zien, who led Marzipan this evening, and I was, I was; she fully enlivened her role and yet let it contain her, as though it all came from within. Lovely to the point of exciting, and I suppose in time if we are all lucky, she will be one of the great ones.

Renan Cerdeiro was subbed for in Act I (Soldier Toy) by Michael Sean Breeden and in Act II (Candy Canes) by Shimon Ito. No sign of Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado, but I gather they are dancing somewhere else this weekend. I'm sorry not to see them, but I'm glad they are dancing. That's some consolation. I'll bet they'll appear in Miami next weekend. Lucky you, Cristian.

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Albertson is a ballerina that usually goes right as where she ought to...nothing less, nothing more. Zien, as I always said, is due for a promotion. Shimon Ito I can definitely picture as the mandarin, although he brings memories of the best one I've ever seen in the role, Mr. Wong. Breeden looks to me as hand made for the soldier variation. And I want Jeanette as Fee Dragee pleeeeeeeeease..! Was the Snow scene and Waltz of the Flowers as spectacular as usual...? I bet it was.

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Only that the Dew Drop I still remember from last year was absent from my gaze this year!

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Only that the Dew Drop I still remember from last year was absent from my gaze this year!

Catoya..? happy.png

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16th December, Sunday afternoon

Trividic returned to Drosselmeier this afternoon, and maybe his is the more apt, but I'm still impressed with the freshly-thought-out approach Guerra brought to it.

Natalia Arja's Sugar Plum Fairy was lighter and more delicate then we have seen, though none the less clear for that; and some sharp inflections pointed up her fine phrases in the energetic coda, with Cerdeiro. Jennifer Lauren's lovely Dew Drop was a good pairing for Arja.

Earlier in the act, Manning's Coffee seemed less a little effective than Friday night; and Ashley Knox's leadership of Marzipan, lovely though that was, was not so completely, fully presented as Zoe Zien's had been.

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What a delightful evening performance last night! It was great to meet our Jack Reed again and share a yummy Cuban meal post performance. (Wasn't that good, Jack...? happy.png )

Some thoughts on the performance...

Jeanette Delgado's torpedo dancing as Dewdrop. The recorded music they used sounded particularly fast this time, and so the dancers don't have the luxury of a conductor that can adjust the tempi for them. Miss Delgado was on FIRE!

I'm getting more and more into Balanchine's excellent staging of this ballet. Everything is so highly choreographed, down to the last detail. Wasn't one of the big complaints of the balletomani of the XIX century that the battle scene was full of confusion onstage and that no sense was to be made of it..? Not here. The battle scene with the children as soldiers has so many floor patterns that one wonders how these kids are able to follow through..they're so little..! And then, watching the costume designs and general feeling, is like going back in time...the little soldiers are so mid-century looking...(I myself had a set of those that I inherited from my older cousins who were born around that time). By now I'm convinced that one of the big hits of this staging is how carefully designed it is. Even the Arabian dance is nicely deprived of any of the usual vulgar contortionists that plague every other Nutcracker, which usually gives it a completely wrong feeling. In Balanchine's, the woman gives an cute westernized version of the middle eastern, and that's OK with me. I don't want reality in ballet...the more fantasy, the better. Moving on with my "discoveries"...the party scene. Why it is that I usually get bored with many offerings of this scene, but not here..? Ah...because there's a story, a well designed one, being told here. There is hierarchy being told..(The old couple taking center stage)...there's humor...(the old couple again trying to keep up with the formal dancing against their physical capabilities)...and again, the vintage feeling, as when the boys get into a formation with the instruments as if playing music-(Christmas carols perhaps?). Beautiful. I mean, there are so many little details, like the wonderful feeling the added violin solo music creates of peace and relaxation after all the party is over. Was Balanchine trying to relax the audience before starting to build up again with the whole battle, growing tree and snow cene...? If so, he succeeded, for which those moments onstage of few people at a time-(Clara, Drosselmayer, the maid)-really smooths of the environment, along with that wonderful violin music. Did I mention how well the overlapping settings of the house hall and house living room and the transparencies work...? I think it was a brilliant idea to make use of that trick. It creates a truly sense of magic all along.

More to come...

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It's good to hear from you, Jack and Cristian. Was anyone else at one of these these performances, or the earlier performances in Miami or Naples? If so, please chime in and add your voice.

I'm taking a breal from Nutcracker this season, but I'm enjoying reading your reviews as a kind of vicarious substitute.

Just want to comment on a couple of things.

It's good to see that you both enjoyed Tricia Albertson's Sugar Plum Fairy, which I've never seen. Albertson is having a good season so far, based on my viewings of her in excerpts from Duo Concertant, her beautifully modulated Polyhymnia (Apollo); and some untypical casting a tango-hall vamp in Piazzolla Caldera. She seems more comfortable, and dancing with greater clarity, than I recall from the past two seasons.

I'm glad you liked Arja's Sugar Plum Fairy, Jack. I saw her dance this two years ago, when she was possibly still an apprentice. It was a promising debut. I think you are right about the delicacy she brings to this. Of all the MCB women, Arja and Catoya are the Sugar Plum Fairies I am most sorry to have missed. Arja, like Albertson, is having a good season. Her vamp in Piazzolla Caldera was possibly, imo, the best single performance in this work from either cast. Her Girl in Blue in Les Patineurs -- paired with an equally good Callie Manning -- was a knockout.

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bart...Albertson was Fee Dragee on Sunday evening, with Reyes as Coqueluche, but...I'm afraid that their PDD was rather sketchy. It looked under rehearsed to me. Let's note that both dancers are already past their prime-(both around 40 I would say..?)- and Reyes has been injured in the past. Nevertheless, they managed to make the pas look lovely, and people got their usual thrill with the moving device during the ballerina in arabesque dragging sequence.

Again, and going back to my ruminations, I told Jack that just as Balanchine decided to preserve the White Swan Love Duet just as everybody else around the globe at the time, I think it is a shame he didn't decide to recycle the Gran Pas here, considering that it was up and around and very alive at the time as one of the very few remnants of any Imperial production. Would he had decide to include this here-(just as he decided to insert the other two Imperial fragments-( Nutcracker mime and Candy Canes dance)- his Nutcracker would had been just perfect. Up until the Pas de deux I'm all happy, and from that point on I wish I could have onstage what Sir Peter Wright or Mme. Alonso have in their productions.

Kleber Rebello was beautiful as the Candy Cane lead, and Ito was a wonderful Mandarin...his grand ecartes almost as open as Wong's back in the days. I don't have my programme at hand, but the Marzipans were also lovely, even if at the time a fight between two patrons broke loose right next to me...one of them even screaming for security-(didn't you hear it up there, Jack...? ). It was very distracting, and suddenly I realized I had missed the lead Marzipan's sautees on pointe for being nosy trying to peek into the fight...mad.gif

Both the Snow Scene and Waltz of the Flowers were as perfect as they could be. These two are the two main characters in Balanchine's staging to me. There is a moment during the Waltz of the Flowers in which the dancers, in rapid sequence, start dropping on the floor and folding themselves, two or three at the time, to suddenly open back in unison...oh, so beautiful! When they fold they look like those plants-(which I have never seen here)-that instantly close their leaves when one touches them. The Snow Scene is just, to me, up in the very top of my conception of ballet. Sometimes I even make my own fantasy out of it, and because they use the romantic skirts I like to imagine that they are the Willis going crazy in winter time! happy.png

More to come...

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... ... ...

I'm getting more and more into Balanchine's excellent staging of this ballet. Everything is so highly choreographed, down to the last detail. Wasn't one of the big complaints of the balletomani of the XIX century that the battle scene was full of confusion onstage and that no sense was to be made of it..? Not here. The battle scene with the children as soldiers has so many floor patterns that one wonders how these kids are able to follow through..they're so little..!

... ... ...

Just a footnote here, from Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review: Forty Years of the New York City Ballet, where she lists the original cast for Act I, to give credit where it is due:

Scene 2: The Battle Between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King (choreography by Jerome Robbins) ...

(My emphasis added)

I'm delighted to see this ballet - the first scene of it, no less - so well appreciated. It's so often under-appreciated. I think this is the best program on MCB's calendar this season, frankly. For a whole evening we see what Cristian is describing. It's wonderful, literally. Full of wonders. One of Balanchine's best. (Balanchine's and Robbins's.)

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