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Alonso's Nutcracker in Canada

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Here's a review of the recent performance of CNB;s Nutcracker in Canada.

Nutcracker. Alicia Alonso's Cuban Version..Magical!

By Danny Gaisin

Tchaikovsky’s NUTCRACKER BALLET is based on a tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Like the composer; the writer was one interesting individual. As a young man he had a love affair with an older woman & composed a song about same (think of Anka’s DIANA); was a staunch liberal before the concept became popular; and interestingly was sent to Prussian East Poland where his job was to German-ize Jewish names:- mssrs Goodbaum; Applebaum; et.al., thank old E.T.A. for the surname! Years later, Jacques Offenbach (a French Jew) honored him by using some of his stories in the famous ballet – Tales of Hoffmann. The Nutcracker (originally nussnacker or in Spanish- cascanueces) tells the story of a young girl; a Christmas party; special gifts; and a Godfather who arranges a magical trip for the little lady and her defending hero.

Cuba’s world-famous NATIONAL BALLET brings the innovative Alicia Alonso artistry and choreography that updates the more familiar Balanchine and Baryshnikov versions to its Canadian tour. Last night’s Hamilton Place performance was a memorable occasion.

I left feeling old; reflectively awkward and definitely clumsy. Seeing the poise, discipline and agility of the youngsters who are part of the CANADIAN BALLET YOUTH ENSEMBLE who perform in Act I; then watching the nimbleness, coordination, and athleticism of the older (slightly) Cubans; I may never get up on a dance floor again. They walk with more grace than I could even attempt. Dear readers, there’s still today & tomorrow’s performances…don’t miss this experience.

The orchestra is comprised of members from our Hamilton Philharmonic, and while they began with a rather tentative introduction to the overture, under the guest baton of Cuba’s acclaimed maestro Giovanni Duarte, the HPO musicians soon reached their normally high levels of technical and lyric standards. The slow beginning was probably a result of nominal rehearsal opportunity with the conductor. The sets are minimalist; appropriate- as the object of focus is on the dancers and their exquisite choreography. Immaculate jétées; pirouettes that defy laws of balance; en pointe that looks easy are compounded by airs-above-the-ground that disregard gravity- all epitomize their talent.

Prima Anette Delgado projects a gymnast’s control and suppleness that is musical artistry. One senses that her vocation is one of both love and pleasure, almost without effort. As her prince, Ernesto Álvarez must be an athlete of the nth degree. There is a dance duel in Scene 2 between Yanier Gómez’ Nutcracker and mouse-king Yonah Acosta that to this adjudicator- ended in a 1st-place.

The corps du Ballet, especially in the ‘snowflakes’ vignette are so incredibly coordinated that one actually imagines it must be enhanced with mirrors, à la Busby Berkeley! The rolls of Clara/Maria are alternatively performed by Kayla Kuskevics (13) and Ilianna Nunes (10); and then by Gretel Morejón in Act II. Alas, no idea which of the two youngsters we observed, but whichever one it was, her discipline and concentration were commendable

Post-performance, we were hosted at a reception by José Ramón Rodriquez Neyra of the Cuban national press. Through him, it was our distinct pleasure to be introduced to many of the visiting dancers and especially conductor Duarte. In person, he appears just old enough to vote. For only thirty-three, his resume and accomplishments astound. Another positive observation- the youngsters’ [both local and Cuban] behavior was collectively mature and well-mannered; obviously a result of the discipline of dance!

The Cuban Company taking the final bow. http://www.haltonartsreview.ca/index.php?o...05&Itemid=1

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