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Nutcracker performances

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My husband and I had the privilege of attending a special Nutcracker performance on December 16. It was a great show and wonderful cast with Arancha Ochoa and Alexander Iziliev as the Sugar Plum and Cavalier. The children and parents seemed to be having a lively time and I especially loved this Drosselmeier played by David Krensing. His musicality and warmth was charming. The dolls were excellently danced by Charity Egans (Harlequin) and Jen Smith (Columbine)who were so crisp and vivid in their dancing. Matthew Neenan danced Soldier with great precision. A good group! Clara and Fritz were lively and all in all the first act party scene was more picturesque than I remember it to be. It is so full of warm family spirit and child like magic.

The battle scene was fine led by Mouse King Alexei Charov and Michal Brown as Nutcracker. This corps of mice were very funny and entertaining. The snowflake corps fleeted through with quick and agile foot work as always in what I consider the most beautiful music of this ballet. The boys choir was wonderful as was the orchestra.

(Since the Academy of Music had its renovation adding a new fly areaand updated electronics, I noticed that the sets move with more ease to help the transitions from scene to scene in the first act.)

Act II - Arancha makes a light and delicate SPF and her solo was pristine. Another highlight of the evening was Rio Lama Lorenzo as Coffee. What a performance...it was dazzling. She encompasses everything needed for this bit of choreography - Long high extension, large jumps, and provacative! Candy Canes pulled nice performances from the kids led by co. member Jonathan Stiles. Marzipan lead Valerie Amiss gave a sprite performance with Bowman, Dull, Flood and Gates showing strong crisp footwork behind her. The evening fav seemed to be the Mother Ginger and Polichinelles as everyone began clapping to the music as the little ones paraded around the stage. I liked Alexei Charov's MG for its kindred spirit and more discreet (?) handling of this role. He was a gentle mother hen sort which suited me. The waltz of the flowers covered the stage with big movement and great dancing by the corps again and Amy Aldridge was a sparkling dewdrop. Amy is a taller long limbed dancer with beautiful eyes and smile. She just makes you glow watching her sweep through this wonderful choreography. And then came the big PD and I thought it could not get any better......but Arancha and her husband Alexander out did themselves in the grand pas. It was not just well executed but had excitement and theycontinued to build their movement right along with that of this grand music. It was a wonderful show. :)

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I just returned from a Christmas vacation to Philly. While there, I was able to see 5 performances of Pennsylvania Ballet's Nutcracker. I must say my favorite Sugar Plum was hands down Riolama. She was absolutely beautiful....such amazaing feet and facilities and her musicality was delightful. In years past, I have been fortunate to see the Nutcracker performed by many companies including NYCB, ABT, Joffrey, PNB, and SFB, but I think Riolama will now go down as my favorite Sugar Plum Fairy. I was also very impressed by the Corps. They all worked beautifully together and were glorious to watch in both Snow and Flower. Kudos to a wonderful production....I can't wait to see this fabulous company in future ballets.

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