Helene

Nutcracker 2016

40 posts in this topic

On 12/14/2016 at 10:48 AM, Helene said:

Also some changes:  

  • ..Benjamin Griffiths  is replaced as Candy Cane by Kyle Davis (Sat mat) and Ryan Cardea (Sun eve), but is currently schedule for Candy Cane and Cavalier.

Week 5 cast

 

Davis was out for awhile -- glad to see him back again!

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Casting is up for the final week, Monday-Wednesday December 26-28:

https://www.pnb.org/Nutcracker/

 

  • Miles Pertl makes his debut as Cavalier, partnering Laura Tisserand on 27 December at 12:30, and then again on 28 December at 5:30pm.
  • Carrie Imler has an extra performance of Dewdrop on 27 December at 5:30pm.

 

There's also some shuffling on this week's casting, which I've noted on the spreadsheet, which can be downloaded from this link:

Nutcracker Casting 2016 12-19.xlsx

 

Some videos about the students in the Nutcracker:

On Being Clara

The Hidden Hero of The Nutcracker

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Just want to say thanks for doing the heavy lifting on the casting spreadsheet -- Nutcracker is a monster of a casting puzzle.

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No performance commentary?  Am I in the right thread?

 

But  I came into Seattle on the 21st to have a look at this.  It's the third choreography of The Nutcracker I've seen in a couple of weeks, and it still looks like the best to me.  Certainly the best of the three, the others being Christopher Wheeldon's for the Joffrey Ballet, and Daniel Duell, George Balanchine, and Patricia Blair's for Ballet Chicago.

 

I have issues with the opening animation for PNB's, though, projected on a forecurtain.  I take it it's the concept of the production designer Ian Falconer, and it sure looks like the wildest dream of a childen's-book illustrator, which I think Falconer is:  Illuminated, seen from on high, and realistically animated, it carries the viewer from a snow storm down through a snowy forest into the front yard of a stately mansion, whose doors are then pushed open for us by a horde of brown rats, leaving realism behind; but as the Overture Miniature ends, and the action begins as we swoop in, it is Balanchine's true realization of Tchaikovsky's instructions, instant by instant, minute by minute, scene by scene, with scarcely a missed moment.

 

One trouble with it is that it introduces the "snow" theme long before Tchaikovsky calls for it - would that Falconer would hear Tchaikovsky as well as Mr. B., or maybe even Duell and Blair, or as well as some ballet-watchers who discuss on another thread here the magical, transcendent effect of the un-choreographed snow music at the end of Act I.  By introducing snow so early, that later effect seems to me undercut, weakened, a little anticlimactic; it's less of a "lift-off" for our imaginations, our winter dreams (to plug another work by Tchaikovsky).

 

But as I say, once the action begins, it's rich world Balanchine and PNB sets before us.  I have some quibbles about the costumes, though, in regard to the bold horizontal red and white stripes used mainly for Clara's dress and the lining of Herr Drosselmeier's cape, but otherwise the freshly re-imagined designs decorations have the right effect.  (I wouldn't insist on imitations of Karinsa's work but the effect should be right, and if it is less than hers, it's the right kind.)

 

Unfailingly charming.  (Wheeldon & Co. never reach that level.)

 

I saw both casts on the 22nd, and the evening happened to be superior to the matinee at most or of all the usual points of comparison, Sugarplum, Dewdrop, Marzipan, right down the list, including the kids, even though Dewdrop in the matinee was Lesley Rausch, who acquitted herself as Sugarplum in the evening as especially light and sharply clear, while nevertheless soft and flowing, and showing us what she heard.

 

But surprisingly the casts so far have not taken away the memories of Dana Coons and Nina Montalbano in Ballet Chicago's performances, whose toes exemplified such a light touch on the floor for an instant or another, they seemed only to be establishing a point of direction, not supporting the dancer.  Just a touch, then up and on.  (That's not the main thing about classical dancing for me, but it's wonderful when it happens.  Weightless!  Not just lighter than you can believe, but weightless!)

 

And yes, this is not only superficial - it's not the only thing, or even the main thing - but unfair to say, too.  Coons and Montalbano had just a few performances, all Ballet Chicago might be able to afford, just four last weekend after the previous weekend I didn't see, and I have a feeling that plowing through the casting data Helene has assiduously been supplying us with would show a much heavier season for the PNB casts.  But that's the way it struck me.

 

But this a fine show, excellent, if just a little mild overall in quality of performance.  It's true; true to Balanchine?  Well, he was true to Tchaikovsky, even more than Ballet Chicago's overall.  (They show us Mr. B's SPF choreography, otherwise it's home-grown, and danced with good energy and a little punch.)  That's the "truth" I look for.          

Edited by Jack Reed

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Sandi Kurtz wrote a review for the Seattle Weekly towards the beginning of the run.  My comments are in the "Best and Worst of 2016" thread.

 

I may be misremembering, not having seen the NYCB "Nutcracker" since the mid-90's, but I thought the drop displayed during the overture featured snow.  I don't think the snow is such a big surprise that it must be saved for the last part of Act I:  Tchaikovsky's overture always reminded me of a journey, and Clara/Marie has to get manifest content for her dream from somewhere: thinking about her guests' journey through the woods and town to get to her family's party on a snowy Christmas Eve is a good a place as any.  I know it's supposed to be New England, but the town reminds me of upstate NY where my father grew up and through which we took many car rides, and those are especially wonderful memories for me.  I find myself with a big smile far before the mice open the front doors.

 

The horizontal stripes and the red, white, and black color scheme for Clara's party dress and Drosselmeier's cape lining are from Ian Falconer's well-known children's books, the "Olivia" (the pig) series, which has been animated as well, and, thus, instantly recognizable by many children, their parents, and probably some of the 20-somethings in the audience.  On the left side panel framing the stage, Olivia herself is sitting in the box, and we get a glimpse of her striped shirt.  She gets to see every performance and stage rehearsal from that box :) 

 

http://weartboston.org/artists/ian-falconer/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKe-7-MbrHXAUB3hYTa6pkw

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your memory is correct, Helene.

the front cloth of Ter-Arutunian's 1964 design for Balanchine's NUTCRACKER - i don't know what Horace Armisted's 1954 scheme offered for this initial drop - is indeed a snow-covered vista of snow laden roof- and spire-tops, presumably suggesting a snow-blanketed Nueremberg, over all of which a angel and a shooting star hang in the seeming frosty air. the angle's garment appears to trail the kind of vapors made by warm breath in cold, winter air. i'm surprised that the web, from a quick check just now, seems not to have an image of this longstanding, familiar NYCB drop. there is, however, a posting of the first act's parlor interior, with its gingerbread architectural frame, complete with detailing that includes the snow-collected roof surfaces. 

 

RTAsNUTx1.jpg

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I know that the Parents and Grandparents in Act I do social dancing, and the mothers are in low-heeled shoes, and for a dancer who's recovering, it's a way to get stage time. In performances so far this season, I see that Leah Terada, one of last year's apprentices that I don't remember seeing in 2016, and Cecilia Iliesiu, whom I last remember seeing in the studio rehearsal for the new Jessica Lang piece, have been listed in the program as Parents, and Matthew Renko was listed as the Grandfather.  I hope this means we'll see them on stage in 2017.

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Will one show to go -- starts in an hour -- PNB published this video of Steven Loch being transformed into Herr Drosselmeier:

 

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On 12/25/2016 at 7:15 PM, Helene said:

I know that the Parents and Grandparents in Act I do social dancing, and the mothers are in low-heeled shoes, and for a dancer who's recovering, it's a way to get stage time. In performances so far this season, I see that Leah Terada, one of last year's apprentices that I don't remember seeing in 2016, and Cecilia Iliesiu, whom I last remember seeing in the studio rehearsal for the new Jessica Lang piece, have been listed in the program as Parents, and Matthew Renko was listed as the Grandfather.  I hope this means we'll see them on stage in 2017.

 

Tangentially, last weekend I heard Luke Burbank on Live Wire (NPR show) speak about his appearance in the new production.  The Stowell/Sendak production had a very low-impact role for the grandparents, and they were often performed by local celebrities (including Burbank), but the Balanchine choreography has no such part.  But apparently Burbank, not realizing the change, had pitched a story to CBS about him dancing in the ballet, so they had to cobble together a mouse part for him to dance. 

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On December 25, 2016 at 7:37 PM, Helene said:

...

On the left side panel framing the stage, Olivia herself is sitting in the box, and we get a glimpse of her striped shirt.  She gets to see every performance and stage rehearsal from that box :) 

...

 

Thanks for the insight.  I had wondered what that pig was all about!

 

And thanks to rg for reminding me of the old decor for NYCB's production.  

 

I think it's the difference between that greeting-card-like scene and this realistic moving picture - literally - it looks like a sequence shot by a camera suspended from a helicopter, or something, a drone, maybe - that bothered me.  Looking at that card while listening to the overture lets Tchaikovsky set the scene; here, he has some competition.

 

But I don't want to belabor the point to make it seem more important than it is;  the dancing is the thing, and right through the end of the Saturday matinee, with Elle Macy's memorable substitution for Elizabeth Murphy as Dewdrop, there was a lot to like.  (No criticism of Murphy; she was one of the better Coffees, even managing a ringing tone with her finger cymbals.)

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She had Guillain-Barre?  That's serious stuff -- I'm very pleased she's made as quick a recovery as she seems to. 

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Beautiful woman in person and in that pic, I wondered if she was injured, now I know, and happy to have her back at PNB in the Tall Girl roles.

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