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NYCB Nutcracker: 2007

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Did anyone attend the 2000th Nut performance yesterday? I'm curious to know how the special casting worked.

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Did anyone attend the 2000th Nut performance yesterday? I'm curious to know how the special casting worked.

Did anyone see Tuesday nights 12/18 performance with Robert Fairchild as the Cavelier. He was terrific, masculine and danced better than I thought he would. I saw him in Romeo and was surprised how strong and was not sure he was ready to be the Cavelier, but I thought he was great. And Sterling was a dream. The two of them float together. This is my 3rd time this year, but the party scene seemed a bit off, maybe it was my seat all the way in the back, or maybe the kids are just tired after such a long run. Although the charming naughty smile on the little boy (Jonathan Alexander) that danced Fritz was wonderful. I think I have hit my limit for Nutcracker this year

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SZ,

Thanks for that wonderful review. Reading it, I felt like I was there. This is my first year, not seeing any Nuts whatsoever!!!! I just didn't think I could bring myself to so. Thanks for the review.

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>Did anyone see Tuesday nights 12/18 performance with

>Robert Fairchild as the Cavelier. He was terrific, masculine

>and danced better than I thought he would.

Lillydoll,

I'll see Robert Fairchild and Sterling Hyltin on the 26th along with Pereira's debut in Dewdrop.

Can't wait!!

Printscess,

Thank you for the kind compliment. You didn't go once to Nuts this season??!!!

Guess I'm a little nuts.... I always end up going more than I think I will because

several corps and newly promoted dancers are frequently given difficult soloist

and/or principal opportunities to show themselves off in. I think that keeps the production

fresh, and I love it that way.

Happy Holidays!

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A belated welcome to Ballet Talk, jbk. We hope you'll post whenever you attend performances.

And thank you for your review, sz!

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The other two outstanding dancers, for me, were Suozzi in Candy Canes. He's actually far too sexy and long-limbed for such a cute, circusy part.

I would like to see Sean as Coffee.

- Klavier (taking a sabbatical from all Nutcrackers this year)

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Did anyone attend the 2000th Nut performance yesterday? I'm curious to know how the special casting worked.

There were three Dewdrops -- Bouder, Hyltin and Mearns. The finest thing all evening was Mearns' Dewdrop Coda. It's the first time I've seen her this year and I was astonished by: (1) the shape she's in, as good as in her career; (2) The effortlessness, the ease with which everything was accomplished; (3) the way she just went to each pose and danced through each step (developees to the side and attitude turns like Italian Fouettees) with absolutely perfect placement and confidence. She has authority now.

Previously, Bouder and Hyltin took turns in the Flower Waltz: this can be done because the role is a series of four entrees. Bouder went first: the opening sequence where she is on the floor surrounded by the flowers, and then rises to toe with her arms en couronee above her head, for an endless balance, is one of the finest things Bouder does. She's so pulled up in the hips; so still; looks so good in the costume; every eye in the house is on her, and you can feel her breathe.

I must say I wish that neither Hyltin (nor Fairchild in other performances I've seen) would watch Bouder's phrasingso much in this role and seemingly attempt to replicate it, specifically the fast little weaving motions, with stops, that Bouder does in the second entree. It's a very individual thing that doesn't replicate. Bouder looks good doing it, though even she sometimes punches it out to the point where it looks a little spastic: but the other girls don't look good with that phrasing. It looks rushed, uncoordinated, a little like martial arts or convulsions. Bouder in company class must be quite an irresistible influence; but Sterling Hyltin has such perfect lines. Really Hyltin is more of a stretched dancer and a natural Dewdrop than Bouder from the physical point of view (particularly with respect to a role (maybe?) made on Tanaquil Leclerq or at least associated with her) and I just wish she would trust her talents and dance it her own way.

Sugarplum was Kowroski in the first entree, the dance with the Angels (a little wild); then Whelan partnered by Woetzel in the grand pas de deux. The grand pas variation for the woman, and the man's coda, were then turned into a pas de neuf, for three women and six men: Borree, Kistler and Stafford (quite radiant post promotion as you might have expected) with a bevy of men. Gonzalo Garcia was most impressive among them. Kistler then danced the final coda at the conclusion of the ballet.

Turning the Sugarplum variations and coda into this ensemble piece didn't work all that well from the purely artistic point of view but it was cute and something special to mark the occasion. No complaints, a fun evening at the theater.

I must mention Stephanie Zungre as the lead Marzipan. I'm not one who cares much for a few bumbles or whether every turn to the knee goes perfectly, as long as the whole impression is there and my my, it was: a lovely bouyant and charming performance.

Also Jennelle Manzi as Harlequin in Act I. I'd love to see more of her: a big girl with strong rhythmic sense.

Rachel Piskin has this year succeeded to Elizabeth Walker's roles as a frequent Columbine and particularly as the first snowflake on the stage. She shows immense promise.

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Z and V:

I love your commentaries and you have more knowledge in your pinkies about NYCB and every SPF you have ever seen, but my Patricia and I thought Kathryn Morgan danced softly and delicately in her first Fairy at 19 after eleven months in the company.

KUDAS to her.

I would love to be with her anytime in the Land of the Sweets.

I am very pro-the delicate Ms. Morgan since I and my wife and some friends who saw Suzanne dance ( We did not since we were raising three children in the burbs in her years.) watched her soar in the 2005 and 2006 SAB spring galas.

Yes, I am old enough to be her grandfather, but I'm still in love with her.

Don't we all get better the more we do something?

I wish Alexandra and Carbo and Dale and DRB an especially happy Christmas, and to all other Ballet Review readers as well.

My wife and I are heading back to Kathryn's third SPF (WE had to work on 12/19.)

JIM

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The New York Times has posted a 3 3/4 minute video of the 2000th. It features Wendy Whelan in an interview and as the primary SPF, along with the other green SPFs and all six Cavaliers. There's a fun stretch of backstage activity, including young Candy Canes and Polichinelles practicing portions of the Sugar Plum adagio.

Click -->here<-- and, if necessary, find the screen. :)

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The New York Times has posted a 3 3/4 minute video of the 2000th. It features Wendy Whelan in an interview and as the primary SPF, along with the other green SPFs and all six Cavaliers. There's a fund stretch of backstage activity -- young Candy Canes and Polichinelles practicing portions of the Sugar Plum adagio.

Click -->here<-- and, if necessary, find the screen. :)

there is also a review attached, which is very interesting and provides a lot of interesting information about the nutcracker.

However, I wish he had opted to write an article about the history of the nutcracker and a review of this performance, as opposed to the way this was structured, which gave very short shrift to the performance in question.

I know that there are limits on space in newspaper reviews, but I'd have preferred to hear more about this performance then, for example, that he plans to go see Katie Morgan in Marzipan after the holidays. That is very interesting and certainly gives a sense of his feelings about her, but I'm not sure it was terribly germane here, especially when he did not even list all the main performers by name, never mind review them.

the video was great fun though, I wish there was more!

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The New York Times has posted a 3 3/4 minute video of the 2000th. It features Wendy Whelan in an interview and as the primary SPF, along with the other green SPFs and all six Cavaliers. There's a fun stretch of backstage activity, including young Candy Canes and Polichinelles practicing portions of the Sugar Plum adagio.

Click -->here<-- and, if necessary, find the screen. :)

Thanks for the link, Carbro, and gee, thanks to the NY Times!

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Saturday eve, December 22, 2007

Erica Pereira's Dewdrop

To get right to the point, she was triumphant!

Obviously this is a time in history that has an incomparable, iconic Dewdrop in Ashley Bouder. It has been stated elsewhere that too many of the company's Dewdrops over-study Ms. Bouder's version(s) and try too hard to replicate.... So how does Ms. Pereira compare with the Prima? Not at all. She just comes out and dances, and with each exit the applause just magnifies. And with each entrance she finds still more to give. She seems to part the Air as if it were Water, this Mighty Wisp of a ballerina. Mr. B's ballerina-as-fish-swimming-in-water. All that spring morning magic as dew makes air and water one. Every thing is new again.

Still in the afterglow of her variation, the cheers echoing in my mind, I suddenly noticed This Woman dancing with Stephan Hanna. She was of course that other icon of Mr. Balanchine, Ballet as Woman. She is Sara A. Mearns and it was the Sugarplum Adagio. Earlier in her debut she seemed to really find her home in the role only around the time of miming with Nicholas Smith, the Little Prince. But now she was in her sovereign domaine, the archetype of The Feminine. Again the audience seemed swallowed up, again ovation. Joy becomes Beauty. How fortunate that these role debutantes had a former ballerina as conductor, Clotilde Otranto. Her work was full of life in Act I, with wonderful balance across the orchestra, always the right emotional nuances, and drawing some beautiful sound from the Brass! In Act II, I can't say, as my memory was filled through the eyes. During the Bows, Ms. Mearns brought the tiny conductor onstage. It was a Balanchinian triumverate, that we were able to thank so heartily.

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Couldn't agree more on your take on Mearns. No one more regal, no one more womanly. Nothing was going to stop her from taking her own sweet time, luxuriating in the pleasure of getting to the next move. She commands her empire, no question about that.

She did seem cautious, however, in some of the partnered passages. Long eye contact with her cavalier, Stephen Hanna, as if to say, "Ready???" and very long preparations for partnered pirouettes.

Pereira, who seemed to have brought her own Long Island fan club (not that she didn't deserve their appreciative cheers), was that enchanting sparkle among the bouquet of pinks and lavenders. With an enchating, still-girlish presence, this was flawless, joyful, full-out (but not daredevil) dancing.

It's the end of the week, near the end of the run, and signs of fatigue were evident among the the corps dancers of all ag es.

I caught Kathryn Morgan's Sugarplum on Wednesday afternoon. She is a remarkable dancer. I can't remember seeing an NYCB woman who could combine the clean, sharp attack of legs and feet with a very soft, English-style port de bras, never sacrificing either to the other. The eye sees, but the mind thinks, this shouldn't be possible! I hope she is able to maintain this unlikely mix.

She is still, clearly, inexperienced. After having built her pas de deux to a great climax, opening the pirouettes-to-backbends right on the beat, she seemed to lose her concentration and had balance problems in the promenade arabesques that Tyler Angle, even with his quick reflexes and strong hands, was unable to correct. Unfortunately, Tyler had problems of his own with the grand pirouettes in the coda. At this performance, I did not see a failure to connect with the children, noted by ViolinConcerto at the debut.

Wednesday's child leads, Maria Gorokhov and Joshua Shutkind were notable for their super-charged chemistry. Her gratitude when he presented the bed for her ailing Nutcracker was startlingly palpable. Made me hope to someday see their mature selves meet as partners on a stage. :lol:

Also, a word about the orchestra. I approach almost every Nut grudgingly resigned to listen, once again, to all that schmaltz. "All that schmaltz" this year has been an absolute treat for the ears and heart, at least at the performances I've attended, under the batons of guest conductors Beran and Otranto. They did fine by the dancers and by Tchaikovsky. Can't expect more. :thumbsup: Kudos and thanks.

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I look forward to being very impressed by Ms. Morgan in the future. (and I can't remember anyone getting so much flack for an opinion!!)

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VC, you saw what you saw. I accept your review of the debut as valid. I wasn't there for KM's debut last Saturday.

Editing to add: I made that observation not to contradict you but to suggest that Kathryn was already improving aspects of her performance.

Edited by carbro

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Many thanks drb and carbro for your Erica Pereira reviews - wish I'd been there! With regards to the fan club, my guess is that it was less Long Island and more of her friends and classmates - as well as family - from in and around Manhattan.

Am very much looking forward to seeing both Ms. Pereira and Ms. Morgan in the upcoming season. :sweatingbullets:

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Yes, thank you to drb and carbro for your Erica Pereira reviews. I'll see her in Dewdrop on the 26th.

But this past weekend, I did manage to catch a gorgeous afternoon performance by Ana Sophia Scheller as SPF. Strong, technically secure, with spontaneously added balances and triple pirouettes (arms in above fifth). Stunning that way! Scheller has a warm, radiant, womanly, sexy look to her dancing. And finally, she had a good partner, Amar Ramasar, who allowed her to keep calm with an abundance of confidence adding to her already regal quality for this role. Amar's coda solo was very much lacking, but I hope that's just because he's danced so little this season... As a partner, he was tall and strong and reliable.

Must also add here that I thought Lauren King did a lovely, slightly sexy, lots of fun to watch, job as the Marizpan lead. That part can make your teeth hurt or your neck tighten up when it becomes too cute and/or tense. King's not a fantastic turner or jumper, but, instead, she gave her audience an easy loveliness, with genuine, feminine touches here and there on top of the technique required.

On the other hand, Sterling Hyltin, as Dewdrop, was like watching crackling lightening! Her energy was so high voltage, I thought I could see sparks bounce off the floor. Technically, Hyltin was very good, but my oh my, a little softness in the arms and neck/head areas would have made her performance even better.

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I saw one of Scheller's Sugar Plums earlier. Agreed - there is a lot to admire and enjoy. However, I wish she did NOT do all her unsupported pirouettes with arms en couronne, impressive as they are. By doing that, she spoils the surprise and power of the moment when she raises her arms in the supported pirouettes that end in big backbends, as the music soars and crashes. Yeah, we've seen her do that already, what's the big deal? I doubt Balanchine would have let a dancer choose to undercut the effectiveness of his choregraphy in this way.

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However, I wish she did NOT do all her unsupported pirouettes with arms en couronne, impressive as they are. By doing that, she spoils the surprise and power of the moment when she raises her arms in the supported pirouettes that end in big backbends, as the music soars and crashes. Yeah, we've seen her do that already, what's the big deal?

I see your point... but Scheller's arms, when dancing alone, went directly up to high fifth in a fast whirl of a turn. Then with her partner's help, she slowly, like pulling a sweater off over her head, unfolded her port de bras (arms) like a rose opening into full bloom (into a backbend). The first version was fast and exciting. The other was luxurious and building... like the music.

Did you see that performance with Scheller and Garcia in the leads? (when the curtain calls didn't work as usual?...). I liked Garcia in his coda solos, but as a partner, he seemed to make his SPF ballerina(s) all nervous and tight this season. (Well, except for the tiny Megan Fairchild...and she can dance with almost anybody... she's so light and fearless).

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Kathryn, not Katie

Kathryn Morgan was very much "sweet young Katie" when she played the youngest girl in Wheeldon's Carousel schoolyard, and Juliet in the Peter Martins youth-oriented R + J. With SPF, she's grown-up. Her first performance, partnered by Gonzalo Garcia, was obviously expected to be an event, reviewed in most New York newspapers. Alastair Macaulay of The Times, who'd already picked her as his favorite of the company's young Juliets, wrote glowingly:

I loved the teenage Kathryn Morgan's debut as Sugar Plum. She is gaining in lower-body strength and precision while retaining the upper-body creamy fluidity and dramatic focus that make her unusual.

Her second performance found her with a partner change: Tyler Angle, who was her very first NYCB partner, in Sean Lavery's Romeo and Juliet PdD. In between, she and (unhappily) former NYCB dancer Seth Orza had formed a rather wonderful partnership of opposites, that had begun to set off creative interpretive fireworks in their last performances of Carousel.

Carbro, writing above of Ms. Morgan's second SPF, noted, I think consistent with Mr. Macaulay,

I can't remember seeing an NYCB woman who could combine the clean, sharp attack of legs and feet with a very soft, English-style port de bras, never sacrificing either to the other.
Indeed, Kathryn confirms both views in a pre-season interview appearing in the current (January) issue of Dancespirit:
Her number-one goal is to build strength and improve how she articulates her feet.

This is not to say that everything was perfect in the first two performances, as noted earlier in this thread. Having missed the first two, I finally had a chance to go to the third, this afternoon. This time Kathryn had the advantage of a repeat partner, Mr. Angle, and I imagine this made things easier on the nerves. Having only seen her in the corps and in the extremely non-classical works of Mr. Wheeldon and Ballet-Master-in-Chief Martins, I don't have a basis to infer improvement in lower-body technique, but surely none was lacking for this venture into far more demanding choreography. As far as I can see, Kathryn has combined her talents well and is a whole-body dancer, all parts clicking in harmony, somehow reminding of that far differently structured Brittish/Balanchine dancer, Darcey Bussell. She entered with a fine command of the stage, definitely aware of the angels, and giving a sense that she was directing her show. (A special moment for me was when Erica Pereira entered as 1/3 of Tea, and they seemed to acknowledge one-another. So comforting, as if one were seeing the security of NYCB assured for the next two decades.)

Later the PdD went very much as carbro described, those triple pirouettes so crisply clear, yet so feminine. Just after the trip in arabesque (shame on Wendy for giving away the secret on the Times video, I always believed in it...), Tyler kneels before Kathryn, and as she balances seems to close his eyes as if dreaming the vision of beauty that she becomes. (Balances in the preceding promenade looked good, too.) Mr. Angle's coda was pretty good this time, even if there was almost an iffy moment half-way through the grand pirouettes, it was only an almost as he sustained them well. If he can become a partner like Ivan Nagy, well, he doesn't need to be Baryshnikov.

Other than Ashley Bouder's, Ms. Morgan's was the most sustained success throughout the arc of the SPF role that I saw this season (but I missed my favorite, Tess Reichlen).

Ana Sophia Scheller was Dewdrop. It was as if Petipa had dropped Aurora into the ballet, so beautiful and clear and in proportion was her form. I wonder what the Mariinsky Masters would think of this dancer. A dazzler, yet nothing is overstated, she lives in the music and has no need to recompose it. Bring on Sleeping Beauty!

I'm getting the distinct feeling that if (perish the thought) every single female principal were to miss the season, NYCB could easily fill all its principal roles with glorious dancing. And another generation is coming... All nine apprentices made appearances, with Matthew Renko getting the solo role of Tea. While many make a point of trying to kick their outstretched hands in each jump of the closing series, Mr. Renko instead showed a soft spring to his steps while dancing big, earlier in the variation. A very promising musicality. Puanani Brown and Garnetta Gonzalez, the two women apprentices, were both Snowflakes and in Hot Chocolate. Four men joined them in the latter, Darius Barnes, Zachary Catazaro, Cameron Dieck, and Joshua Thew. Joseph Hernandez and Russell Janzen were unfortunately hidden in mouse costumes. The apprentices, by the way, are officially listed in SAB's Fall Newsletter, with photo, except for Ms. Gonzalez who already was one.

I wish that the dancer of Mrs. Mouse would be credited. Her grief when her husband the King dies is so deeply, warmly human. She carefully goes among the enemy to claim her fallen hero's sword. It is beautiful, and a lesson for those who would portray Lady Capulet's grief for slain Tybalt.

Merry Christmas, and Peace.

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Wednesday Matinee, December 26, 2007

Erica Pereira's 2nd Dewdrop was a breath of sunny, spring air. Light, pretty, delicate and so lovely. Erica was all sparkles and radiantly fresh while taking on every technical demand with complete ease. She's quite special with her combo of long legs, long arms, petite, graceful build, and excellent alignment strength on top of her youthful energy. By alignment strength, I mean to say that I've known very few dancers who could execute big jumps (grand jetes, stag leaps, stag pas de chats) as easily, and as similarly, to both sides (taking off with either the left or right leg). Erica seems to have this perfect alignment which only adds to the pleasure of watching such a natural dancer without visible nerves. Doesn't hurt that she's also an excellent turner.

Erica is all pure joy without any affectation at this point. Agreeing with Carbro, I'd also like to see her now take on a bit more risk in the future.... although I did see that quality in her Marizpan just recently... So, it should be wonderful watching Erica mature in the coming years at NYCB.... I'm already thinking of some roles I'd next like to see Erica learn from: Aurora, Square Dance, Afternoon of a Faun(!!), Ballo(?!!).

And speaking of young dancers still maturing at NYCB, Sterling Hyltin did a beautiful performance today as the SPF. She often can be tense and full of nervous energy, but today Sterling looked completely happy and relishing every minute of her role. Nerves barely there. And when Sterling is comfortable, she shows a special gift of being very spontaneous with her musicality. Today's performance was a fine example of that. Her partner for the grand pas was Bobby Fairchild; a handsome, attentive cavalier.

But most striking of the men today for me was Vincent Paradiso. He danced the all too brief solo of toy Soldier in Act 1. Paradiso is amazingly strong and manly with huge jumps, a strong, muscular build, and a warm sensuality that could not be hidden with all that doll makeup and doll acting.

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Thursday Evening, December 27

I couldn't make it to Sara Mearns' debut as the SPF last week, but I managed to get there tonight for Act 2. She did some lovely things, particularly off the ground -- her jetes and pas de chats looked powerful and free. But on the whole her performance made me think of how hard this role is to master, how it takes such a combination of maternal radiance and breakneck risk-taking.

On the maternal side, Mearns still seemed a little too self-conscious to be believed as the fairy who is staging this whole spectacle in honor of a couple of kids. And in the breakneck category, she didn't quite go for broke in her dives and falls into the cavalier's arms. Stephen Hanna was there -- and had saved her from a slip during the step-up turns -- but she didn't seem willing to fling herself at the floor and just trust him to catch her.

Still, her lines are regal, her arms and hands always exquisitely expressive, and she seems to have added an inch to her soaring extensions. She has everything she needs to grow into a great SPF. Hopefully it will just take time.

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Wednesday Matinee, December 26, 2007

Erica seems to have this perfect alignment which only adds to the pleasure of watching such a natural dancer without visible nerves. Doesn't hurt that she's also an excellent turner.

Also beautiful response to music. Great feel for rhythm -- She carries each rhythmic response through both arms and legs and into the center of her back and then, at an easy pace, bounces it back.

Big jump. Long arabesque.

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I went yesterday to their 5:00 performance at the Lincoln Center. Slightly different production than that of MCB, (also Balanchine's). Overall, my impresion of his version stays the same..."Kids for kids"...it was cute, IMO, to see the massive attendance of families...it gave me a different perspective of the ballet and what Mr. B wanted to achieve , which he certainly did .

Anyway...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

:wallbash:

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Cristian--thank you for that report. Is the Snowflakes you saw at NYCB very much like the one you saw at MCB? That was the highlight of the performance I saw at NYCB last year--it was simply divine, in an otherwise sometimes satisfying, often unsatisfying performance. The other highlight for me had been the 'Miniature Overture', which had been played with exemplary crispness.

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