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Nutcracker Comments

Amy Reusch

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Well, it was a pleasure to see Boston Ballet's Nutcracker. There were many fun touches, and I'll be very sorry to see the "Sugarplum Theater" disappear. I'm fried with rushed holiday preparations, and I don't have my program handy now, but I wanted to jot down some quick comments all the same.

My daughter announced with much confidence when the lovely Larissa Ponomarenko appeared as Snow Queen: "Now these are the teenagers".

She was, however, disappointed in that she wondered "whatever happened to all the little sugarplums? There weren't any little sugarplums"... (I'm still perplexed at this question, but perhaps she's felt all those children in little bubblegum pink tutus that populate children's storybooks are "little sugarplums"?) This time, she seemed to be almost more interested in the instruments playing in the orchestra than in what was happening on stage, but she was very very attentive.. such a difference a year makes.

We sat in the Mezzanine, Row C, and paid what is for me a pretty penny for our tickets. I was sorry to see that most of the dancers directed their presence to the orchestra rather than to the balcony. I remember when teachers were always hounding their students to keep their chins up. I guess this has become an obsolete concern, but I wish it were still done. It makes such a difference when the performers play "up". We weren't in nosebleed seats, after all. Some of the principals played "up", but mostly the corps and children didn't. The children can be forgiven, but the corps should be directed. Actually, usually, corps choreography looks stronger from the first balcony... it's easier to see the patterns... so it would almost seem more in their best interest to project up.

Unfortunately I bought the souvenir book. What a gyp! I don't mind the cost, I consider it a donation... but it's full of huge head shots instead of dance shots. What on earth were they thinking of? I don't go to the ballet to see the dancers' faces (in spite of my earlier comment). And I can't imagine that, at auditions they select company members for their faces... Do dance shots cost more than head shots? Did they feel they needed to have only "current" photos for the souvenir book and head shots were the cheapest way to get them? I'd much rather have pix from years ago than head shots.

I believe one of the reviews said that Nissinen had pared the production down to the dancing. I'm curious how much the choreography might have changed? I would expect the choreography to shine in the long Waltz of the Flowers... but I thought it was actually more cogent in the Finale.

It's hard after seeing so many different productions of Nutcracker not to want to pick and choose sections from different ones. Boston's toy soldiers were the best I've ever seen, and I enjoyed Drosselmeyer's magic tricks... but so far, no one beat's Balanchine's Waltz of the Flowers... it's such a long long part of the ballet, it really needs special attention... costuming alone won't get anyone through the Waltz... Although I liked many aspects of Boston's Mother Ginger, I still love NJ Ballet's Ginger the best (if they still do what they did in the 70s)... but I'm not going to start that thread...

Whenever there are changes, it is as if various sections that seemed "written into the music" get lost... I seem to remember that Tchaikovsky had extremely specific directions from Petipa governing Sleeping Beauty, but are there things "written into" the music in Nutcracker, or is it just tradition that makes it seem so to me?

Clara's throwing of the slipper didn't seem to make much sense here... most productions, she throws the slipper and it distracts the Mouse King just as he was about to slay the Nut... he usually looks back to see what hit him and at that point the Nut springs up from the floor and slays him... in Boston's, the blocking is such that Clara is standing behind the Nut when she throws the slipper... I can't think why she would need to be there instead of on the other side.

Anyway, a pleasure. I wonder what it will look like next year?

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Amy, thanks for your comments. I'm glad to hear that you liked the performance (in general) and had a good time. You are so lucky to have seen Larissa Ponomarenko as the Snow Queen. When we went we had almost all corps members dancing, only a few soloists and no principals. While it was an enjoyable performance it wasn't as thrilling as seeing some of our top dancers. I'm glad you did!

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