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Favorite Balanchine Sugar Plum Fairies


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....Scroll down to the 4th photo. It gives a good idea of just how charismatic Mitchell was and how contemporary his "look" would appear even today.


Francisco Moncion was the original Coffee. The kids were dropped and Coffee turned into a woman (Gloria Govrin) for the revised NY State Theater production in '64.

I'll never forget the hookah. I would've mentioned it in my last post, but didn't want to veer too far off the subject of SPFs. Now that we have taken a bit of a branch-off, I feel free to say that the hookah fascinated me for years because I didn't know what it was, only that is was exotic.

Mitchell would partake of it as he began his solo. I have a fuzzy memory of him being brought in, sitting in the middle of the carpet, by the children. Or did the children bring the carpet in and Mitchell entered and sat on it to smoke? I can't imagine how the kids/parrots could have carried or dragged him to center stage. Does anyone remember how this went?

On the Playhouse 90 version, Clara and the Prince open a pair of doors and Coffee is on the rug with the 4 children/parrots. The parrots help Coffee prepare a snack for Clara and the Prince, some sugar dipped in coffee.

Coffee gets up and moves forward on the stage so he has a large open space with the rug at the back of the set. He does part of his solo and goes back to the rug, which again fills most of the tv screen. One of the parrots hands him the hookah and he takes a hit. Smoke rises up in the foreground. He stands and dances some more on the rug and then lays down and goes to sleep. Clara and the Prince get up and leave the scene , moving on to the next sweet.

All in all pretty unusual stuff for 1958 network TV.

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I've seen 5 of the Miami City Ballet Sugar Plums, including Kronenberg, Catoya, and Seay. but have to say that the one who impressed me the most was the youngest and least experienced, Jeanette Delgado. This was clearly a work in progress, but I was astonished about how mature and thoughtful her approach to the role already was.

I'm basing this on a number of elements:

-- the precision and delicacy of her first solo (to the playing of the celesta; and

-- the spontaneity and genuineness of her reactions to the little prince's miming of the story of the dangers he and Marie have faced, and his account of Marie's bravery. (Many ballerinas lack conviction in this crucial aspect of the role.)

-- the unexpected (to me) majesty she achieved in the pas de deux. (It must have helped to be dancing with Rolando Sarabia. What a partnership that might have developed into had Sarabia remained with the company!)

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