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Ballet BC/Alberta Ballet Nutcracker

Guest ariesrising

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Guest ariesrising

This was the second time I'd seen the Ballet British Columbia and Alberta Ballet's Nutcracker. I also went last year. There were very very few changes from last years performance, aside from the amazing surprise I got when looking through the program. Checking out who was dancing what parts, I was surprised to see Evelyn Hart would be performing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy for the matinee I was attending. There were a total of 5 shows, and she only performed opening night and closing matinee, so I was thrilled I would get to see her, as well as RWB's Jesus Corrales as the Prince.

The storyline was kept familiar, unlike the God-awful Neumeier version the Royal Winnipeg did a few years ago.

Clara was played by a student (unfortunately, the schools the kids were from weren't listed in the program) named Natasha Zheng, who I thought did an excellent job in the role. She performed both matinees, while Alberta Ballet member Talia Evtushenko took the evening performances.

The set and costumes were all familiar to me, having seen them last year, but they were great, so no complaints.

The fight scene was fairly well done, although it is introduced by a somewhat ridiculous remote control mouse driving onto the stage. It zips around, is gone, and the mouse dancers are onstage, all in all, it seemed like a way to wake up sleeping children more than add to the ballet in any way. Another absolutely confusing addition was that of a costumed rabbit in the fight scene, who marched around with a small drum. I have no idea what the point of it was.

Jesus Corrales as the Prince was great, and Travis Birch I had much sympathy for, as his Mouse King costume looked quite hot. The mouse costumes made me think of sports mascots. I still prefer the Kirkland/Baryshnikov costumes for the mice...easy to move in, and not as silly to look at.

Kristen Dennis and Sylvain Senez did a nice job as the Snow Queen and King, and the snowflakes were great. The Waltz of the Snowflakes is always my favourite part for some reason.

After intermission, I could tell people were gettingn excited about Hart coming onstage. Each of the divertissement came onstage and then Hart appeared, to a round of applause. The stage was set for the divertissement, also a favourite of mine.

There were a lot of last minute changes in the program for parts, like the ballerina doll, toy solider (moor in some productions), and a few divertissement. I'm not sure of the reason for all the changes, I just remember thinking it sounded like everyone in the cast decided to switch roles for the day. At any rate, Amanda Walsh, Travis Birch and someone involved in the numerous cast changes who's name I didn't catch, did the Spanish Dance, then Melanie Atkins and Paul De Strooper did a fabulous Arabian dance. Out of all the divertissements, I think this one was the crowd favourite. It was very slow, but the movements, especially of Atkins, were great. Sabrina Matthews and Jones Henry did the Chinese dance, which for me seemed to lack a little something, although it was not the dancers, more the choreography seemed too plain for the fast music. Matthews is one of my favourite dancers, and I had fallen in love with her Arabian dance from last years performance. She is choreographing for the School of American Ballet this year too I think.

The Russian dance was done by Szabolcs Varga, and a dancer who was subbed in at the last minute, who unfortunately I can't remember, although I think it was Francoise Chevennement. The Pastorale also had cast changes, and I can't remember who took the parts.

The butterfly (Dewdrop) was played by Melanie Henderson, and the Waltz of the Flowers was great.

Finally it was time for the Tarantella, and Jesus Corrales did a great job with his performance. Evelyn Hart came out for the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. I was surprised at how ultra thin she is. The other dancers looked so healthy and normal sized, but she looked so thin it would make Callista Flockhart look normal. Her dancing was amazing, but I was distracted by her feet. I don't know if it was her pointe shoes, but during any arabesques, it didn't look as if they were pointed. Maybe the box wasn't tapered or something, but I just kept thinking something was weird with her shoes.

The audience enjoyed her Sugarplum Fairy, and soon it was time for the Coda and all the cast came out for a final individual dance for each divertissement. As the Russian dancers came out, mid-leap mind you, the entire theatre was plunged into darkness. All the stage lights went out, yet I could see (I was 4th row) the dancers *continued their dancing* in the pitch black theatre, and when the lights came back on about 10 seconds later, the next divertissement was out doing their little dance lol. Everyone was really clapping for them at that point lol.

The bad thing was, the full stage lights never came back on. The scenery has this drop down screen that is used in the first scene of the ballet, where it's see through, and you can see when certain stage lights are on (not full spotlights). For some reason these stage lights were the only ones that would come on, so the stage was somewhat dark, and bathed in a yellow/orange light.

Nothing fazed the dancers, and the rest of the ballet was carried out, I'm sure, while the lighting crew ran around like chickens with their heads cut off lol.

The audience had them bowing for what seemed like 10 minutes. All in all, it was a great performance, despite some technical glitches, which could have been very dangerous. The two companies do a great job with this piece every year. I know it must be hard for them to coordinate two companies, and dancing school kids into a 3 day event, but they did a great job.

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Thank you for posting that wonderfully detailed review! Go more!! I've never encountered someone who specialized in Nutcracker -- but didn't go to see other ballet smile.gif

Please let this post be an inspiration to others. Drew, did you see Atlanta Ballet's Nuts? How about the folks up in Boston? Philadelphia? Chicago? San Francisco? Anything down around your way, Giannina and Steve?

Can we have a Nutcracker round up, please? Either on this thread, or start your own.

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Here's a list, but I doubt it's all inclusive. Besides ABT:

Moscow Classical Ballet

Nouveau Chamber Ballet

Laguna Ballet

City Ballet of San Diego

Palos Verdes Ballet

San Pedro City Ballet

West Valley Ballet

Westside Ballet

Ballet Pacifica

Orange County Regional Ballet

Saddleback College


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