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The Nutcracker

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CCBM Program V-2009

“The Nutcracker”.

Music: P.I Tchaikovsky

Choreography: Lev Ivanov/Marius Petipa.

Staging: Magaly Suarez after Alicia Alonso, based on Alexandra Fedorova's staging

Saturday, December 5 @ 8:00 pm

Sunday, December 6 @ 5:00 pm

Manuel Artime Theater

900 S.W. 1st Street, Miami

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year. I would be interested to know your thoughts.

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I'm looking forward to your reports, Cristian. And please don't forget to tell us how this production compares with those you knew in Havana (I'm talking about style, not scale, which will inevitably have to be reduced.)

I'd also be interested in how it handles the basic story line, something we've been touching on in other threads recently.

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CCBM's director Magaly Suarez' Nutcracker is an ambitious project. This is her second year doing it, and one must aknowledge the labor of love she does with such scarse sources. So before talking about the production, I want to recognize her hard work, along with that of Pedro Pablo Pena, her co-director and an rabbid enthusiast of the development and showcase of the Cuban Ballet/Style in Miami. Also, on the second performance and during the intermezzo, I did some chit-chatting with my neighbors next seat, who happened to be Miss Suarez' parents. They recounted how they recently decided to permanently move to the States for good to help her daughter with the company. Her mom told me about the countless nights she herself spent sewing costumes and reworking old numbers for the production, sometimes 'till the morning hours.

So about the performances. On the first night, I was able to attend only to the first Act, due to the fact that on the same night I was watching another Nutcracker production, that of the Youth Ballet-(which I will talk about a little). I had timed both performances by calling the theaters in advance, and the timing was perfect. After I was done with the Youth Ballet, I drove across town all the way to the charming Manuel Artime Theater-(an old refurbished church in the heart of Little Havana)-just in time to get in during the Intermezzo, prior to the second act of the Cuban Company.

This is a production that Miss Suarez has staged according to the guidelines of the one she learned and danced in Havana during her performing years. As I have said before, this is basically Mme Alonso after Fedorova staging, to which Miss Suarez has been faithful in the most important numbers, like the Grand Pas, the Snow PDD and the Three Ivans-(Russian Dance/Trepak). The first act, which I was able to attend the second day at the matinee, also followed some of Alonso's guidelines: the children are played by the youngest members of the company, the girls featuring pointe work. There's also an interesting character, listed as "Herr Drosselmeyer's assistant", a masked, mischivious boy who keeps running and jumping around, helping Drosselmeyer with all his tricks. This guy-(pretty much a la Swan Lake's jester)-added some flavour and technical tricks to the usually not very exciting Stahlbaum's party. Airy Gleidon Vasconcelos did the part really good...being a very light, fast jumper, a la MCB's Alex Wong. Oh, and among the guests they included a priest...who limited himself to watch the party goers from his couch. Go figure.

About Mr. Vasconcelos, I want to recognize all his dancing, which was A LOT. From being Drosselmayer's assistant he suddenly dissapeared and came back as one of the party boys, to suddenly get lost again and reappear as Harlequin-(one of the life-sized dolls), to later on become the Snow King on day 2 and finally the Spanish dancer on the Act II divertissement. Quite some dancing,right...?


The battle of the mice wan't that elaborate as Alonso's, which uses adult female corps and a choreographied battle also done on pointe, along with male adult corps for the Nutcracker's troops.

In Suarez version both troupes are played by kids. After the battle, and before the Snow PDD the Nutcracker takes his human form-(played by a young company member)-and dances a number to the "transformation" music with Clara. Here Suarez makes them dance an Adagio number, much like Alonso, although less elaborated, but still very cute. This was the opportunity to show off some dancing for Clara-(Clarissa Ferrer on Sunday...having missed Michelle Chaviano the previous night, both of them girls in their early teen years)-and the Nutcracker Prince-(elegant Thomas Bettin on Saturday, Walter Garcia on Sunday)


The land of snow had 20 snow flurries and the Snow Queen and her cavalier, who danced along the whole scene all the way 'till the end. The costumes were also done inspired by those used in Cuba, but instead of the headpieces with multiple wires and little snow balls on the tips, they had this similar devices in their hands. .The snow Queen was Juliana Saenz both days. Her Cavalier was Walter Garcia on saturday-(couldn't see him)-and Gleidson on Sunda.


The initial parade of little angels opened the second act, with all the customary uuuh's! and aaah's! of the pleased crowd of parents. No, no matryoschka dolls like Alonso....Balanchine's substitution triumphed here.

As soon as this was done came the biggest surprise of the night. The Sugar Plum Fairy's entrance...and guess who's making her grand entrance on day one...one of my last ballerinas of my Cuban years...Alihaydee Carreno, whom I haven't seen since she danced in Suarez production of Giselle a few years ago. During her Havana years, Carreno-(cousin of Jose Manuel)-was always a very reliable ballerina, with a solid technique, great charisma and none of those flashy fake tricks that one can see nowadays. She is not a 180 degrees dancer, nor a weightless/stick-like, thin one, but again, one with great personality, which she has reinforced as she has matured as an artist. I was happy to have her back. On the second performance. it was Grace Ann Powers, the current darling of the company who did the honors.

The divertissements.

The Spanish dance was danced by Carla Oliveira and Gleidon Vasconcelos. Vasconcelos, again, was great...daring jumps, lots of panache and beautiful epaulement.

Marzipan's Merlitons were Natalia Barulich, Jessica Fernandez, Madison McDonough and Marianne Mumford. The Chinese Dance had diferent costumes this years, the old black tutus recycled from the Satanella production giving path to a more adequate chinese inspired attires. Lots of sautees on pointe. The Trepak was beautifully executed the first day by Walter Garcia, acompannied by two women, Karen Mata and Ana Robles. What a pity that there were not another two dancers good enough to dance The Three Ivans, another variation from last year. Still, Walter was AMAZING, doing the whole choreography by himself, finishing with some spectacular Grand Ecartes...BRAVO!!

Mother Cigogne-(not my perticular favorite divertissement)-was charismatic Jesus Sanfiel, along with the usual brunch of little polichineles.

The Waltz of the Flowers was one of the highlights of the production. Here Suarez got some Balanchinean inspiration and added the Dew Drop Fairy character. I must say that I was very pleased with ballerina Emily Spencer, another dancer that has grown and matured within the company, and who exhibited a PERFECT line, placement, EXTREMELY solid technique and elegant demeanor. I was VERY impressed with her dancing. I hope she would move on to keep developing her skills in the future. There's some great material right there. The Corps/Flowers were lovely.

Grand Pas de Deux.

The heart and sould of every "after-Fedorova" production is without a dubt the Grand Pas., and I was prepared once more to enjoy this lovely chunk of Ivanov. The first day, along with Alihaydee Carrenno we had Raydel Caceres. I'm not sure if this was a wise pairing-(well...this is not true...it was NOT). Carreno is a veteran dancer, with a certain projection, demanor...characteristic of the Alonso's ballerinas who are not, in any case, shy to show off and steal the show-(just think of Viengsay Valdes). Carreno is not as flashy as Valdes, but still, next to her Caceres was obscured. He is a very young bailarin, and so certain partnering mishaps were shown. Still, they both did their best to connect, and it was obvious that they were enjoying the dancing. The Adagio went fine, everything as planned until the moment came to execute the most characteristic and beautiful segment of the chreography...those pendulum swinging-like upside down back lifts. Well...they never came...they omited them...both days. Too hard to exsecute...? Perhaps...I don't know. I was dissapointed. Next day Miss Powers was paired with Miami City Ballet's soloist Carlos Quenedit, who showed better partnering skills. Both Caceres and Quenedit danced very well the male variation. Quenedit did graceful entrechat-sixes. Both ballerinas also danced lovely the iconic celesta variation. When Carreno danced, I could see accents, little clues of her Havana days. they can run, but they can't hide...Pas de Deux coda and general coda continued and then Clara woke up in her living room, next to the Nutcracker.

The end.

Among the highlights of the production, it should be mentioned the ingenious way they came out with to make up for non existent props. They used a computer generated program that projected the backdrops images. On the Second Act they used the original Konstantin ivanov's 1892 sketches.

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