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CCBM's Nutcracker at Dade County Auditorium

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Magaly Suarez-(Mamicha)-is trying her best, and the results are showing. The Artistic Director of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami showed up onstage last Sunday to receive a big ovation during the final bow of the second performance of her Nutcracker. Her work was nothing but a visual feast that had the power to take me-(and probably most of the audience)- back in time and place. This is a Cuban Nutcracker-(or Russian…?, well, maybe even American or English, considering how it got to be preserved). Anyways, in its survival some names names have to mentioned: Ivanov, Petipa, Sergueiev, Fedorova, Dolin, Markova, Wright, Alonso , and more recently Suarez.There was something naive and innocent about this production. One wouldn't mistake it for anything but Cuban. It fuses exotic colour with an attractive Spanish influence.Now, this wasn’t about lavish sets. I know there’s the concept that this is a fairy ballet, and it is traditionally expected to be all about sumptuousness. This is a struggling poor company, after all. They depend on the generosity and kindness of dance fans around to even get pointe shoes. So the sets are, well, borrowed props from Ballet Clasico de Santiago, Dominican Republic. Thanks to them. Now, the important thing: the production, which is shamelessly nostalgic. And that's right up my street.

The Overture was played-(recorded…no enough money, so please, DONATIONS!)-with the curtains down. As they went up, we see the first attendants of the party scene come from the wings:

Act I:

The party scene with its happily integrated. There is a character that I had forgotten about: Herr Drosselmeyer’s assistant. This is a mischievous character that wears a blindfold and keeps playing around during the party. (Sort of like the bouffon from the Cuban Swan Lake. Another vehicle to toss put some male dancing steps) . the character was played by a vivacious and light Darlos Manuel Mijares.

Right away all the party girls-(more like 12 to 14 teens/characters) went on pointe, and the dancing started right away. This is what I’m talking about. Nice choreography, very well integrated with the character shoes adults party attendants. The life size dolls were two sets. First there was Harlequin and Columbine, danced by Michelle Chaviano and Gleidson Vasconcelos and a a couple of soldier toys, male and female: Esperanza Montero and Jesus Farias. Herr DrosselmeyerbuffoonCarlos-(John Sheaffer)-was well characterized, amazing the party kids with his tricks but always respectable and usually very serious. The battle scene displayed some choreographed dancing done by the Nutcracker Prince-(an adult dancer, Tommy Bettin) and the Rat King-(Ignacio Rivera, who also danced the Snow King). Everything went more or less as expected leading us to:

The Snow Scene:

The Snow Flurries wore long romantic tutus with headpieces and handled branches ending in snow little balls. They were very well coordinated, and did some nice grand jetes. During the transformation music we were presented with the Snow Queen PDD, which was danced by elegant Grace Ann Powers and Ignacio Rivera. Rivera, a short but nicely shaped dancer, did a nice job partnering tall Powers, which has became one of the most attractive hallmarks of the company. She was precise and showed that impersonal halo that is part of her character. Act I ended with the image of Powers sitting on Rivera’s shoulder encircled by the kneeling Snow Flurries. Very nice.

Second Part of the review coming after I'm back from Chrismas dinner. FELICIDADES!

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Act II . The Kingdom of Sweets.

The II Act started with the usual parade of angels/infants-(can live without it)-and its usual response of Aaaww!’s, and Ooww!’s and sets of cell/camcorders rolling. Anyway, the setting was a little distracting, given the fact that it showed an austere palace interior backdrop -(probably more appropriate for Paquita, but let's not forget that this sets were given as a generosity of the Ballet of Dominican Republic). After the Nutcracker’s mime scene-(just like Balanchine's)- he and Clara sat on each side of the stage, away from each other-(a miss…let’s work on that) and then the divertissements started.

The Spanish Dance was danced by a couple. It was vivacious and had a nice national flair. The girl had point shoes, and the boy-(a good looking Ignacio Rivera, also the Snow King and the Mouse King)-did all the right partnering.

Arabian Dance-Four Odalisques and one leading couple, the girl dressed as a snake. I’m not very fond of this dance in any production that I’ve seen. It’s very slow and it’s usually all about showing extensions and gymnastic-like contortions. This wasn’t the exception.

Chinese Dance-Four girls in black pancake tutus and black point shoes with Chinese-inspired shirts and hats. At one point they had the four of them jumping at unison on point with both feet-(kind of noisy…didn’t like the effect).

Dance of the Merlitons- Three girls. A difficult choreography. Elegant Grace Ann Powers leading the group during the second run performing a very nice series of 16 Italian fouettes.

Mother Commedia- The usual stuff. Too many kids...

Russian Dance-Ah, a nice Trepak danced by Jesus Farias, Carlos Manuel Mijares with Gleidon Vasconcelos in the leading. Very energetic Grand Ecartes. Very well done. With a little bit of more rehearsal time would have been perfect.

Waltz of the Flowers/Dew Drop Fairy PDD- Mamicha added the Dew Drop Fairy and her Cavalier characters to her production to dance along the flowers routine. I don’t think this inclusion really worked for me, although it was another fair chance to show more classical dancing. Jordan Elizabeth Long danced it on the first performance, looking very pretty on the role making this PDD, otherwise unjustifyable, well worth to watch

SPF PDD- This was definitely the highlight of the performance. On the first run it was danced by Kate Kadow, a dancer that still needs to polish her technique in order to equal her more experienced peers Long and Powers. The Cavalier was handsome Miguel Angel Blanco for both performances, “THE” partner “per se”. I was so happy to see this PDD performed again after many years. It brought back the nicest memories, and it was performed just as I remembered. Only one detail. During the Adagio one of the most beautiful moments is when almost at the end of it, the Cavalier grabs the ballerina on her back and bounces her with pendulum-like movements almost touching the floor. This was beautifully done by Long, but omitted by Kadow. Long’s variation was as airy and refined as it could be, and her pique-turns during the coda were fast and strong. Tall Miguel Angel Blanco was, as usual, a stage presence, a truly prince, eating the stage with his ample jete menages.

And that’s it. The end of the whole thing was very fast. Clara didn’t wake up in her room…no setting changes. Mamicha decided to end the ballet a la Balanchine, having Clara and the Nutcracker flying Thur the stage in a globe.

Mamicha's production was very ambitious. It required 4 leading couples:(Clara/Nutcracker, Snow Queen/King, Dew Drop Fairy/Cavalier and SPF/Cavalier) and a lot of dancing. Long,Powers, and Blanco, as usual, stole the show. I still have to watch Kadow more carefully in the future. For the rest, the audience was very happy, so was I.

Thank you Mamicha!! :rofl:

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