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Nutcracker 2012


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#16 Jack Reed

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:03 PM

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.

#17 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:43 PM

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.

#18 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:12 AM

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

#19 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:13 AM

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


Catoya..? Posted Image

#20 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:17 AM

Yes, indeed!

#21 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 01:58 PM

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.

#22 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 01:52 PM

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...? Posted Image )
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...

#23 bart

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 08:52 PM

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.

#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 08:52 AM

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...Posted Image
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! Posted Image
More to come...

#25 Jack Reed

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 03:29 PM

... ... ...

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.)

#26 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 09:39 PM


... ... ...

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) ...



Oooh...! Good to know about this, Jack!

#27 Jack Reed

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 08:06 AM

Robbins had some detractors for imposing elements into his dances that no one - or no one else - heard in the music he chose - for example, is there anything about dancers' vanity in Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun? - but everybody gave him credit for moving people around the stage in effective, legible patterns.

And I also feel that "Snow" and "Flowers" are the high points of this ballet - on the flight home to Chicago I had a good time with those parts of the 1993 Warner Brothers video of Nutcracker before my battery started to run down from repeating them - but like Cristian I also enjoy the moment-by-moment unfolding of this great fantasy, the superb invention of the fascinating details, the pacing, the architecture, if I may say so, realizing before our eyes what Tchaikovsky conceived, or so it looks; and ballet that looks like the dancers are doing what the music tells them to ranks high with me. So thanks for your detailed written appreciation of it, Cristian. That's part of what's valuable about BA! - it brings some of the experience back again.

(That was a tasty meal, by the way, and inexpensive, too, and especially considering that Don Arturo is not so far from the BCPA, I may well visit it again. But in the light of MCB's current programming, it won't be very soon, I'm afraid.)

#28 brokenwing

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 11:27 AM

Arsht casting is up. Lots of opportunities for corps, including Zoe Zien (whom many of you enjoy) in Dewdrop on Saturday at 2. http://miamicityball.../NewsPDF405.pdf

#29 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:33 PM

Arsht casting is up. Lots of opportunities for corps, including Zoe Zien (whom many of you enjoy) in Dewdrop on Saturday at 2. http://miamicityball.../NewsPDF405.pdf


Finally! Posted Image

#30 Jack Reed

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:19 PM

I may have picked the wrong weekend to visit Florida! Two Catoya SPF's and a Zien Dew Drop! I'm back in Chicago this weekend, consoling myself with watching Ballet Chicago, Chicago's Balanchine-oriented ballet school, dance Daniel Duell and Patricia Blair's Nutcracker, which this year restored Balanchine's four-part pas de deux to the end of Act II. I mean, Adagio, Male Variation*, Female Variation, and Coda. (The rest of the slightly abridged ballet is Duell and Blair's choreography - not bad, musically aware, generally, but not on Mr. B's level.) Simone Messmer from ABT performed with Ted Seymour, who is seen here and with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. (Ellen Green of RDB, a BC alumna, danced Dew Drop.) Well, how would I know?

*Daniel Duell's choreography, I gather; when I first posted this, I was under the mistaken impression - given by some ambiguity in the program credits - that this was the seldom-seen Balanchine choreography. Frankly, it looked maybe less-well maintained or something than the three parts in regular performance, not unlike the Servants section restored to Prodigal Son by TSFB in November.

Edited by Jack Reed, 22 December 2012 - 08:14 PM.



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