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NYCB Nutcracker 12/13

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Not much new to add, but a few commments...

Sigh...so much better than ABT and worth the 6 hours of travel in one day! I think I've always been in the orchestra section for The Nutcracker ,so it was interesting being up in the 4th ring this time. The set looks a bit sparer since you lose the illusion of 3-dimesionality with the overhead perspective. I could also see the dancers crawling from behind the tree to the "doll boxes"-they need to stay a bit lower in order to avoif being seen.

It was definately the most multi-cultural Nutcracker cast I've ever seen at NYCB, both among the "parents" and "kids". Act 1 ended with another "revenge of the "velcro" snowflake wands". This wand definately had evil thoughts in mind since it settled right next to the wings so every dancer had to be very careful not to step on it and slip.

Yvonne Borree was initially a bit reserved as the Sugerplum Fairy, but relaxed in the final pas de deux. She was especially good in the long sequence where the SPFairy is turned on point by her partner and then does a final balance on her own. Damian Woetzel was his usual self, tacking on a spectacular triple tour at the end of the turns in second. It seems that Damian gets the most notice for his bravura dancing, but he's also appears to be a very solid, reliable partner. I have no clue what he's like in rehearsal,but he seems to be an excellent, attentive partner onstage.

Jennie Somogyi had one small slip as Dewdrop, getting slightly out of balance in a turn, but she recovered nicely. Andrew Veyette debuted as the lead male dancer in "Hot Chocolate". He has a nice crispness to his jumps and positions, and was well paired with Deanna McBrearty. Stephen Hanna's Mother Ginger was fairly reserved tonight-not nearly as over the top as I've seen before.

Speaking of...does anyone know why Martins is digging into his corps for Cavaliers? I don't remember corps Cavaliers before (wasn't Angle a soloist when he debuted?). Sean Suozzi got a good review from the NYTimes, and I look foward to hearing about Hanna's debut!

Not that I have anything against giving the youmger guys a chance to shine (and I can see why Lyon, Ritter and Higgins don't fit into the Cavalier mold), but why hasn't Millipied been given a chance-is he the wrong size/type of dancer...though I remember reading that Millipied said some things in an interview that Martins didn't think too highly of...

Just my usual curiousity smile.gif


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Thanks for posting that, Kate. I don't know NYCB's casting policies, but one could make a very good case that height is a Cavalier requirement. (Height and genre of dancing; the small, quick guys aren't cut out to be Princes.) Having written that, 17 small, quick guys will be cast as Cavaliers, I'm sure smile.gif

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Also as some one pointed out in the spring, a number of NYCB's senior men such as Soto, Neal, Boal and Woetzel are nearing the end of their careers. I think it is wise to start grooming the younger men now. It is hard to say which of the guys in the corp will have the talent, stamina and luck to become principals but you have to start somewhere.

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Oh, liebs! Say it isn't so! Those guys are nearing the ends of their careers?! How old are they? I would never have expected that they were nearing the ends of their careers in ballet.

Maybe it's time companies and their adoring public started to accept that with age[what35? eek.gif }comes the depth of experience that imbues their dancing potentially with much more...

It makes me sad to think that these dancers are ready to be put out to pasture.

What does ready mean anyway?

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Hi again!

I think it was me that brought up the subject of the aging NYCB male principals smile.gif

The youngest, either Philip Neal or Charles Askegard, is at least thirty, and the rest are in their mid thirties or older. LaFosse is essentially a character dancer, and it appears that Albert Evans is stuck with a limited repretory (I'd love to see him as a Cavalier).

Of the rest, Soto and Boal are probably the closest to retirement-both are increasingly limited in technical ability, but have much left to contribute. I'm glad to see that both are teaching at SAB-passing the flame to a new generation!

Woetzel is approaching 35, but barring a major injury, he appears to have more than a couple good years in front of him. In fact, I see him as someone who will move on not because of age/injury, but because he's "done it all" at NYCB and there is a greater challenge somewhere else. Martins would be wise to keep him busy with teaching, dancing and chereography.

Neal, Hubbe (if he stays injury free) and Askegard probably will be around for more than a few years, and will probably be important in helping a new generation of male principals settle into the rep. And I hope that Martins will

eventually be able to retire and find more enjoyment in his musical talents.

In anycase, while the principal ranks are aging, I think we are very lucky that many of these principals like Woetzel, Soto and Boal are talented teachers and actively engaged in educating the next generation. If these men can help nurture the emerging talents and pass on the lessons they have learned from their teachers, we should have nothing to worry about (well, almost nothing...some talented tall young male dancers would be a nice Christmas gift for SAB!!!).


P.S. If height was the main requirement for cavaliers, Robert Lyon would be a busy man!

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Gosh, Sneds, Peter Boal's still only 36 though admittedly he was one of the first to bring up retirement. Happily, I think he lives in a bizarre parallel universe where "retirement" seems to equate with "I dance more than I have in years". I'm admittedly very biased, but I don't notice a major technical decline, or maybe it's just that there are so many compensating enrichments I see. Chuck Askegard is 32, I'm not sure how old Jock Soto is, but I believe he entered the company in 1981, which makes him in his late 30s.

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I certainly wasn't suggesting that any of them retire in the near future but Boal has talked about it and it is clear that Soto's prowess is declining. Unfortunately, NYCB's rep does not have many roles in which one (either male or female) can age gracefully. So the company has to look forward and it is great that Soto and Boal can provide a model through their dancing and teaching.

There are also very few male soloists now who look like potential principals. Lyon and Houston have extremly limted reps. Higgins and Ritter just don't seem to interest Martins. Tom Gold is a specialized talent with a limited place in the rep. Angle certainly has potential but it is early to judge his development.

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And then there is the question of Benjamin Millepied. . .

In terms of female roles for older women, I think there are a few (Liebeslieder or Davidsbundlertanze are two, I think that Mozartiana looks best on a mature dancer, but it mercilessly exposes technical shortcomings), but it's hardest on those whose forte was virtuoso roles (like Merrill Ashley). Even so, I think something Martins is very fair about is his treatment of the senior dancers in the company. In most cases they seem to leave on something close to their own timetable.

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Okay, I feel better now...guess I am not as aware of the details of these dancer's lives. It just seemed so sad to hear about retirement.

I hope Leigh is right about this stage as being not so much a "retirement" but more of a transition into other venues.

As for the teaching aspects, it is good to know that the young men at SAB have the opportunity to study with people like Peter Boal...who I hear is truly a wonderful human being.

Hmm, often do wonder what is happening at SAB with the vast majority of female students...the general murmur is that they are getting short shrift. What do you all think about the "older" female dancers and those that might teach or do teach?

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What about Marcovici? From a a quick glance, it appears that Marcovici, Angle and Millipied are probably the only soloists with a chance for promotion. Fayette is solid, but just not likely to advance any further, and I agree with Liebs that Ritter and Higgins seem to have fallen out of Martins' range of interest-which is a shame, since both appear to be very talented in their own ways. I don't know enough about Hofmans to comment...

Leigh-I didn't mean to imply that any of the principals are OLD redface.gif ) Boal is still one of my favorite dancers, and hopefully he will perform with Dance as Ever sometime when I'll be able to make it into NYC! I was very disappointed that he did not peform with Suzanne Farrell's company when they were in Princeton.

I just feel that Martins needs to make sure that he will continue to have talented and youthfully enegergetic male principals-something which ABT has almost an excess of. So many of the male roles in the NYCB rep require a great deal of stamina and athleticism, which the older guys just don't have as much of as the younger guys.

I do agree the Martins treats his older dancers fairly, sometimes too much so... For instance, Darci Kistler is a wonderful dancer, but it's painful to see her in roles that injuries/age have left her less than technically capable of handling. Why must Martins include her in almost every piece he cheoreographs, and leave out fabulous younger dancers like Monique Meunier? And I occasionally feel that Jock Soto is cast in roles that need a bit more athleticism that he has at this stage in his career.

I wonder if the issue with female students is not so much that they get less attention, but that there are so many more of them. If I am not mistaken, almost every guy who is talented enough to be in advanced classes at SAB is guaranteed a spot in a good ballet company, barring injury or height issues. Not to mention that with fewer men, each guy gets more individual attention in class.

However, with so many more women, it's harder for female dancers to get a good contract. Could it be that there is a greater sense of disappointment amongst SAB women because so few get the coveted NYCB contracts, and that for many SAB dancers, anything but NYCB is considered less than ideal. I don't know what SAB policies are, but it seems that it would be most productive and helpful to encourage the dancers to explore the other dance and educational possibilities as much as possible while at SAB-take summer courses at other companies etc (interesting article on this subject in the latest SAB newsletter).


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I strongly agree it's been good to see some of the younger men in the corps cast as the Cavalier this Nutcracker season.

Seth Orza, who was cast opposite Janie Taylor, performed very well in the performance I saw last weekend. Orza is tall, very well trained, and is a superb partner. This last point is very important to me and it really showed in his work witn Janie Taylor, who is someone who really dances with, and relates to her partners, who feeds off of strong partnering. They had a lot of eye contact and communication with each other and the grand pas was thus by far the best part of her performance (last Sunday), which Anna Kisselgoff also noted in her review last week.

There are so many talented dancers, I often think that just getting the chance to be seen, to be cast, is what determines how far they will go. Helen of Troy would have been just another "beautiful gal" if she hadn't been kidnapped and had a war fought over her.

Also -- and I wouldn't want to pursue this because even commenting on it may spark a continued discussion, which is the last thing we need, but a corrective seems necessary to me nonetheless -- There is a lot, repeat, A LOT, of good young male talent at the school. NYCB has no lack of young talent being fed in on either side of the dressing room doors (so to speak). It's what happens when they get there, how they are coached and how they will be nurtured in the years that follow, that will make the difference in how they develop (IMHO).

[ December 15, 2001: Message edited by: Michael1 ]

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Just a note to say that there are some very good points that have been raised here, and it's fine, Michael and BW, to start a new thread -- pull a topic out of a discussion and give it a life of its own. (Like cells splitting smile.gif ) We've had threads on coaching before -- maybe it's time to have another one. Also the point about educating students. Yes, that's a "Moms and Dads" topic, but it's of interest to the general audience too. Either of those would make interesting topics on Aesthetic Issues, so do feel free smile.gif

I hope there will be more Nutcracker reviews, too!

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