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Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker 12/23

Guest Prisma

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I am in Atlanta for the Holidays, and I got the chance to attend the Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker. It is a very interesting Nutcracker, choreographed by ABs artistic director John McFall. The ballet starts with what I assumed was a drunken man who lights street lights. The music began when he took a sip from a flask he had stowed away in his hat. Random but whatever. Party guests crossed the stage in front of the curtain with children and there was a girl selling chestnuts. While all of this is going on we see Drosslemeyer in a window at the top of the stage in his workshop. He causes an explosion and another character runs across the stage to save him who I later found out was the Nephew/Prince character. Anyway the curtain finally goes up revealing the Party Scene. Lots of extravagent costumes and sets. In this production it is set in Russia and we have a Marya in stead of the American Marie. Marya was played by a charming girl who had lots of character. This Party scene is very lively. There was of course the annoying little brother who was always up to michief and believe it or not there was a Big pink pig on pointe, a chef and little chef Munchkins. I kid you not a big pink pig on pointe. This dance took place during the march part of the music. The audience seemed to love this pig who was just hamming it up. The chef chased the pig around with a meat cleaver and they did a littles pas de deux. A Pig in the party scene?? Weird is all I have to say. Anyway there was the usual doll dance which was danced nicely by Hye-Young Kim and John Welker. Ms. Kim was a wonderful doll and seemed to be very at ease and comfortable with the dance. Mr. Welker also danced nicely. These are two very talented dancers. The scene continued on with the usual and we went on to the battle scene. The battle scene was full of menacing rats and marching soilders. The Nutcrcaker came back to life and Marya and he walked into a little Gazebo center stage and surprise, they came out as ballerina marya and Prince. Ballerina Marya and her prince was danced by Christine Winkler and Wei Dongsheng. They danced a very lovely snow pas. The choreography was kinda weird but the dancers seemed to be very at ease and comfortable with the steps. Ms. Winkler is a very petite dancer with beautiful legs and feet. Her partner was a true prince and presented her nicely. Their Snow pas was followed by the Snowflakes dance. I really like ABs snow scene. It is very different from most snow scenes I have seen.The snowflakes were in long blue and white dresses, which looked really nice. The snowflakes danced nicely and throughout the snow scene Marya and her Prince danced as well. Marya and her prince left the snow scene in a sley and flew away.( Some ugly little piece of cardboard wobbled across the stage on a wire in the air supposedly Marya and her prince flying away. Tacky! and Cheap!)

Act 2 opened with these things called Dreamfairies(They looked like bugs to me)wearing these awful green unitards with yellow polka dots and wings. They danced an awful dance. I missed the usual angels dance. Then we see Dew Drop. There is no SugarPlum Fairy in this one. Dew Drop does the variation. Another weird change. DewDrop was danced by a beautiful dancer named Emily Cook. She has amazing Legs and wack feet. But her variation was so awkward that it didn't really show her off. John Mcfall has some interesting choreography. Very awkward and weird. The steps jut didn't flow and instead of being pretty and calm it was sharp and angled, but whatever. Then there was the usual Spanish dance which was danced with a lot of spunk and energy by Toni Doctor and Xiao Chen. There was also Chinese dragons and ribbon twirling girls for the chinese variation, which I found very annoying. Instead of Marzipans there was a Shepherdess and get this two pink lambs on pointe. Again more animals on pointe. What is his obsession with farm animals? Along with the pink lambs was a little black lamb. This variation was cute, but kind of disturbing. Anyway we move on to Mother Matrushka(Mother Ginger). Under Mothers skirt popped out flipping little ones who did acrobats. They were cute. The arabion variation was a pas de deux danced by Alessandra Lange and Jim Stein. They danced a very lovely pas that was sexy and full of big lifts. Then came the audiences favorites and mine the russian dance. This was danced by three crazy guys showing off there tricks. Very fun to watch. Next was the grand pas. A very yet again awkward pas that was for me to slow and boring. It was full of big lifts and turns.(The usual)Ms. Winkler seemed to be just going through the motions with a what seemed to be painted on smile. I wasn't impressed with this pas. After the pas was the Flower waltz. (Yes it came after the pas weird ha!)This Flower dance was not very flowery. The girls were in these ugly flower like tutus and danced very weird choreography. DewDrop was in this dance accompanied by two roses. One rose really stood out. I think her name is Kristi Necessary. She is a beautiful girl with an amazing facility. I thought she was better than Dew Drop!! She seems very young, but she was beautiful to watch. Beautiful extensions and turns. A couple of other girls stood out in the flower waltz as well. I am not sure of their names but they were lovely dancers. Besides these few girls I was not impressed with flower corps. Probably because the corps was made up of girls from the companys school. Waltz was followed by the coda for marya and her prince.(Don't Codas come after pas??) Wei Dongsheng is a beautiful dancer with long limbs. He did a very nice menege. Marya also did a menege and fouettes.I have seen better fouttes, but she finished with nice supported piroutes by her partner and a tombe pas de bouree step into a throwing spinning thing into the the air into a fish dive to finish the music. Very impressive. Then there was the finale.

As a whole I would give this show a B-. It was weird and awkward with lots of animals. The dancers were good. But the choreography didn't help to show off the dancers. The company is also doing Dracula and Madame Butterfly. I would like to see these shows, but I might not be able to come down and see them. Ireally wanna see more of this company though. It seems like a talented group. Sorry my post is so long. I just had so much to say.


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Prisma, welcome to Ballet Alert! Online!, and thank you for reporting in such great depth about AB's Nuts! It sounds quite different in some parts, but there seem to be a lot of very different productions around these days. eek.gif

The more I see these "new" productions, the more I appreciate the traditional. I usually wish that people would accept a classic as a classic and just do it and not keep trying to make it better or more different by adding dancing animals, plopping flowers, etc. rolleyes.gif

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I live 100 miles south of Atlanta and saw Nutcracker there at The Fabulous Fox Theater about 3 years ago. My experience was pretty much as Prisma described, except the Russian dance. Maybe it's different now, but the ending pose that the Russian dancers assumed was a hip-hop B-boy stance . . . all that was missing was some kind of "Put ya hands in da air!" After seeing the first half and being immersed in old-world Russia, that sort of threw me. However, the audience loved it. For me it's just a personal preference to see my ballets in a traditional presentation. Maybe that's why I'll hold out for a Russian company in the hopes that they are less likely to pull that kind of stunt. :)

Edited by Roach
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