Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Connecticut Ballet's Nutcracker

Recommended Posts

From ConnecticutBallet.com:

The full-length holiday classic with a cast of 100 local children and guest stars Julie Kent and Jose Manuel Carreno, principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre. Called "beguiling and a feast for the eyes," by the Connecticut Post, Brett Raphael's production comes to Stamford Center for the Arts for the first time.


Saturday, December 5 – 7:00pm*

Sunday, December 6 – 1:00 & 4:00pm

Palace Theatre, Stamford Center for the Arts

61 Atlantic Street, Stamford

Box Office: 203-325-4466

Visit www.scalive.org

Sunday, December 13 - 1:00 & 4:00pm

Jorgensen Auditorium, UCONN

2132 Hillside Road, Unit 3104, Storrs

Box office: 860-486-4226

Visit www.jorgensen.uconn.edu

Link to comment
Kent & Carreno are dancing the gala? They couldn't really be doing the UConn performances could they? (Could they :P ?)

Mr. Raphael said they will be dancing both weekends. Tell your friends, tell your foes!

Kent and Carreno will be attending the Gala Party immediately following opening night. Contact Connecticut Ballet for more info:


(203) 964-1211

(860) 293-1039


Link to comment

Someone ought to hand Mr. Raphael a heavily spiked eggnog... he certainly earned it today!

I was at the 1:00 matinée up at Jorgensen in a miserable cold rain...probably the worst weather possible for dancers, though audiences tend to be appreciative.

First, a few words about Jorgensen Auditorium. How a university can consider itself a university with a hall like that... it astounds me. It's dismaying that all UConn has to offer it's university community is something worse than a typical high school auditorium. How can the Trustees have any self respect? It's sound system is awful. It has no fly space to accommodate drops, and most of the seats in the orchestra have obscured view making it impossible to see dancers' feet below the shins. I've often thought the building must have started life as something else. A skating rink perhaps? But that would be maligning some rather nice performance spaces that did actually start out as skating rinks. Probably worst for the performers, it's acoustics seem to swallow up applause... as if it almost wasn't happening.

Now, that said, if you are wise enough to choose a seat on the risers (as opposed to the distant balcony or bad sight-lined main floor seating), you will see some rather nice companies perform... much more interesting fare than the "big" theater, The Bushnell, in Hartford pulls in (unless Broadway road shows are the ultimate for you).

Dealing with less than ideal circumstances, Mr. Raphael presented a delightful Nutcracker. The costumes were gorgeous. There were many charming bits of stage business in the first Act which I've never encountered in a Nutcracker before... though I was slightly disappointed when after Drosselmeyer feinted as if he were going to enchant the party guests into performing the traditional mechanical doll dances but then produced some more traditional types... however as the choreography for the mechanical was charming and clever, I had no true complaint.

Did I mention how hard this director worked yet? Not only did he choreograph & stage the ballet (apparently presenting in 3 or 4 significantly different venues rehearsing 4 different casts of variously trained/untrained kids, he put himself in the role of Drosselmeyer, and did an awesome amount of human hoisting about here & there (is this to prevent his danseurs from complaining about too many lifts; Drosselmeyer pulls off almost as many?).

I particularly liked his bit about having the children cover their eyes.. it worked so nicely with the revealing of the Land of the Sweets. He worked well with some very very tiny children, darling as heralds and reindeer. Honest, I must say the stage business of the guests throughout, from the entrance through the tea party to the farewell... very nice. One guest tipped his hat to the audience as if we had just met him on the street. Would have been nice if the guest's lantern were lit, but lighting finesse seemed a bit constrained by the Jorgensen facility's capabilities.

I'm not sure what the difficulty with the Sugarplum Fairy was but I would rather have seen one of the first two charming Mirlitons or the Dewdrop given a chance at the role... they were quite musical, graceful, light on their feet and gentle with their arms; clearly happy to be dancing for us. The Dewdrop, Adele Robbins, did a lovely job with her legs and arms, but her epaulement was more typical of today's youth and the hiphop influence than the typical Waltz of the Flowers fare. The Sugarplum Fairy did have lovely arches to her feet and a very high extension when she deployed it. It was wise to put her variation at the beginning, so that everything could build from there.

Clara, the curiously named Scoutt Jones, was charming, with a lovely light quality. She looked as if her coaching had not been overlooked (this is so easy to be forced to forego when occupied with straightening out large complex casts).

Arabian, danced by Elisabetta Stanculescu & the tall Jake Warren, may have been the most successful of all the variations... with some spectacular lifts and some truly lovely line. The audience was transfixed. Rapt. Every single one.

Melissa del Sol & Robert Johnston, the couple that pulled off Snow, wowed the crowd with many spectacular lifts, and their snowflake corps did an admirable job. The Snow royals had that long bit of "through the Christmas Tree" music as a pas de deux before the snowflakes came on... and with apparently little time to rehearse in the performing space managed to pack a lot in. The crowd appreciated the effort.

Caitlyn Hudson deserves a mention too, she made for a vivacious Spanish dance, with more sparkle than this often gets.

The Russians had to deal with some messed up sound cues, but had some fun things in their dance. None were asked to do that thigh busting folk dance step though... what is that thing called... you all know it even if you've never had to do it... that kicking out from a squatting position? I suspect a little vodka helped those cossack dances get their start. I understand there was a certain amount of hazing amongst the cossacks. I don't know about amongst Nucracker cast members.

I have just one question... the Christmas Tree had a certain nebulous quality to it during the Battle scene, very interesting... never seen that quite done before... and I wondered how it was achieved. It looked like Drosselmeyer's magic was at work, but couldn't quite figure it out.

Oh, and I heard my new all-time favorite Nutcracker quote from a couple a rows away during the battle scene... when the mice first came on, in the dim light, someone asked "What are those?" and was promptly hushed by his companion with a very curt "They are Ninjas."

I hope this Nutcracker becomes a Jorgensen tradition. If it comes back, perhaps the stage crew will get used to the demands of a Nutcracker and won't torture the dancers quite so much. With Hartford Ballet's demise 10 years ago, there hasn't been much chance for local families to see a real production. There are many local school productions, but unless one feels to head south to the casinos or the coast, or out to Torringon, or Providence... there's nothing in the Northeastern quarter of CT.

And Sandra Kaufman's article not withstanding, about how bad Nutcracker is for the ballet world, there are very few ballets suitable for children. Perhaps we could all be like Francis Mason and discover ballet as an adult... but I wonder... didn't he say he had to be dragged off to it?

Link to comment

Wow, I'm glad you enjoyed it. THe Jorg is an unusual building, I think Uconn Basketball may have begun there in the 1940s. It has that Westchester County Center Art Deco feel to it. No warm spots in the dressing rooms, the green room was the only warm spot in the theater.

Ladies Corps only had two make up stations, many came over to the mens dressing rrom, which had 6 makeup stations. Balcony lobby was converted into childrens dressing rooms. Minimal privacy up there.

No Fly space to speak of, wings are biscected by the acoustical shell. THere is a smaller stage UNDERNEATH the Jorg, so there is no hope of lowering the stage or ever having an orchestra pit. Scenes had to be creatively raised and lowered. Snow transition was a bit iffy. Stage is very wide, but shallow. Concrete floor.

THe Jorg is a student run theater, a lot cheaper than the Bushnell and other stages around the state. Jorgensen theater was a co-producer with Connecticut ballet, less risk for both groups in case of bad weather. Did I mention how cold and dreary it was this weekend?

Mr. Raphael works hard to keep CT Ballet the State Ballet company of Connecticut, many of us have performed all over the state in towns and cities that have never seen a full length ballet. He played Dross like he has been doing it for decades. He's a hidden treasure in the Nutmeg state.

Link to comment

I've been to Jorgensen and remember noting many of the drawbacks you described. (Though, at the time, I was seated upstairs--balcony?--so at least the view was a "full-shot" if small). I also filmed a Nutcracker at the Bushnell, and remember a few mishaps there too (luckily mine were minor), so maybe it all depends on the companies performing and their perseverence and creativity in the face of adversity?

Thanks again for reporting for us (more-or-less) close neighbors, who face many of the same venue problems (or lack thereof).

Link to comment
though I was slightly disappointed when after Drosselmeyer feinted as if he were going to enchant the party guests into performing the traditional mechanical doll dances but then produced some more traditional types... however as the choreography for the mechanical was charming and clever, I had no true complaint.

Now that's a fascinating idea -- someone should take it and run with it!

Link to comment

Well, some productions break the music up into 3 dolls rather than 2 (or two sets), and Dross hypnotized a male party guest for "the first" bit (sometimes this music is taken up with stage business about bringing out the dolls and examining them before winding them up). There were many clever bits in this production!

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...