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SFB Nutcracker 2009 Casts and Reviews

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Cast for opening night:

Nutcracker Opening Night

Tuesday, December 08, 2009, 7pm

Conductor: Martin West

Drosselmeyer: Damian Smith

Queen and King of the Snow: Sarah Van Patten, Pierre-François Vilanoba

Sugar Plum Fairy: Sofiane Sylve

Grand Pas de Deux: Yuan Yuan Tan, Rubén Martín Cintas

Here's the link.

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Hi All-

I'm a long-time reader, 1st-time poster-so I apologize in advance for any newbie-related inadequacies. (I've already lost my reply twice as I was trying to open another window to reference in said reply!)

I'd like to share some exciting and SURPRISING (<tried to use italics but it didn't look right in here :) ) SFB Nutcracker casting. Are you ready for this one?; Former SFB Principal VADIM SOLOMAKHA is returning as a Guest Artist to dance Nutcracker Prince (with Sarah Van Patten in the Grand pdd!) in several perf's! Welcome back Vadim!!!

But that's not our only cause for celebration...3 of SFB's most beloved dancers that were very sorely missed last season (sidelined due to injuries as have already been discussed on this site): Welcome back to Principals Gennadi Nedvigin and Jaime Garcia Castilla, and Soloist Julianne Kepley!!!

Gennadi is making his comeback with his debut as King of the Snow to Maria Kochetkova's debut as his Snow Queen-and THAT is pairing I call a "must-see"! When Gennadi's on his game there's hardly a better technician anywhere. And we know that Maria can easily match him. Wow. They'll probably burn up the floor with that Russian bravura of theirs! Hope he "floats" her well...

Jaime and Julianne are both cast on Fri, Dec 11 2 PM. Jaime is Nutcracker Prince with the queen of epaulement Clara Blanco in the Grand pdd (whom Allan Ulrich wrote about last month in Dance Magazine here: http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/Novemb...e-Clara-Blanco) while Julianne reprises her Sugar Plum Fairy. I'm heartily welcoming her back even though she did briefly appear in last season's WSSS. This is her 1st real DANCING since the season before last. She was sidelined right before she was scheduled to dance in Julia Adam's "A rose by any other name..." for the New Works Festival. It's been a long time since we've seen her dance and I'm thrilled to see her as SPF and also cast in Snow with Anthony Spaulding on 12/13 at 2 PM.

Jaime-I missed him terribly. Imagine just being promoted to Principal and then not stepping foot on the WMOH stage for an entire season! I still remember his intensity in Eden Eden and am thrilled to see him on the cast list. Finally we get to see him as a Principal dancer!

More news (I know...1st time poster and this is a bit lengthy but all you hard-core SFB fans will appreciate this!):

Former SFB Principal Danseur and current Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokov is debuting as Drosselmeyer! Here's a tip: Wait till the Dec 13 7 PM perf and you can see him, Vadim as Nutcracker with Sarah, AND the 1st performance of our newest Principal Vitor Luiz as he debuts in Snow with Lorena Feijoo! And Frances Chung's SPF is one of the most endearing interpretations around, so it's quite a cast.

Taras Domitro fans can catch his debut as Nutcracker Prince (with Vanessa Zahorian in the Grand pdd) on 12/12 at 7 PM.

Keep checking the casting on their web site as things can and do change, but there's a whole lot of reasons to go and that's just the 1st week! Go team go!

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Casey Herd guests in the SFB Nutcracker:

Nutcracker Evening

Thursday, December 17, 2009, 7pm

Conductor: Donato Cabrera

Drosselmeyer: Val Caniparoli

Queen and King of the Snow: Vanessa Zahorian, Taras Domitro

Sugar Plum Fairy: Maria Kochetkova

Grand Pas de Deux: Sofiane Sylve*, Casey Herd^

Nutcracker Evening

Saturday, December 19, 2009, 7pm

Conductor: Martin West

Drosselmeyer: Yuri Possokhov

Queen and King of the Snow: Frances Chung, Hansuke Yamamoto

Sugar Plum Fairy: Lorena Feijoo

Grand Pas de Deux: Sofiane Sylve, Casey Herd^

I thought he was with PNB, but I don't see him on the cast list (which is hard to read, the way it zips by :tiphat: ), so maybe I missed him.

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Saturday night's performance of the Nutcracker seemed subdued but lovely. The production appears to have become simpler, and as if a divertissement or two were missing. (Candy Canes?) Madame du Cirque and company seemed best of all, maybe because a group of children were giggling away near me, and the bear (Benjamin Stewart?) had a nice way of lopsidedly rolling about. Alexandra Meyer-Lorey did a very fine dancing doll, and of all the mime, which is a bit overmuch and too heavy of a layer of it for me, Quinn Wharton seemed to be the most natural and inventive. Clara and Fritz were also very good -- but why does Fritz become contrite for having broken the Nutcracker? He's to be a little mean-spirited and jealous. There should be at least something unsettling, and uncomfortable, and not just all upper middle class good cheer, in a production of the Nutcracker!

But I do love the farewells on the chariot and white horses and their little half circle they make in the Waltz -- K&Q finely done by Hansuke Yamamoto and Frances Chung.

And in the Grand Pas Vanessa Zahorian and Taras Domitro seemed better individually than together -- whereas last year as King & Queen they were quite brilliant, all acute angles, like a draftman's quiver full of 30 60 90 triangles. Vanessa's account of her solos was lovely and full of interesting corners, and Taras is always all surprises -- like Gennadi Nedvigin, he's a very generous dancer -- he always gives more than you expect but you never know where the extra parts are going to be -- the little extra spring and extention where you think there can't possible be any more. His mime earlier, after his transformation into a prince, was light and very not too serious.

It would be truly great and liven things up this season to see Taras and Maria Kochetkova and Sofiane Sylve in the alternate casts of Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Maria in the second aria and Sofiane in either, and Taras -- who had great ear for the psychology and astringency of the Bart Cook part in the Melancholic of the Ts-- in the first.

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Tuesday: Maria K flew up onto Gennadi’s shoulder as quickly and as softly as a moth. It was quite uncanny -- more like Ovid than Nutcracker. Gennadi’s phrasing was wonderful to watch, architecturally Palladian in its perfect placement of small details against large ones.

I applauded so loudly that the woman next to me asked if I had a daughter in the production.

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The thing about seeing multiple performances of a production like this one is that it’s like it's like seeing different painters paint the same genre scene and being able to compare them side by side and seeing how they -- painters and dancers -- solve the problems differently.

In the Grand Pas Thursday night Sofiane Sylve in held her leg out on a turn that probably made it more difficult but gave it a more zig zaggy figure, and she tucked her foot completely under her like a bird as she did a lateral jump as I hadn’t seen anyone do it before. Lorena Feijoo’s shock of recognition mime coming out of the mirror box was a great little moment -- and she went on to phrase her steps with full stops in a way that you could only liken not to dance but someone playing Bach on the piano, double fingering or something like that.

Her partner Vitor Luiz had a lovely and warm, at-ease sense of being on stage, and he filled in his mime of the battle with extended shading and nuances. (This part is always interesting and fun -- Taras, Gennadi, Viktor and Joan Boada have all been memorable in different ways here.) Yuri Possokhov was the first Drosselmeyer I’ve really followed all the way through -- flustered and skittish and coy, a bit cat like. Garen Scribner completely realizes the terribly difficult Chinese, snapping out all quadrants of the figures, and Django Allegretti was another great circus bear, more in the quick parts that the rolling ones that Matthew Stewart draws out.

Also on Thursday the guest conductor Donato Cabrera pulled out more voices from the orchestra -- at least it seemed -- and Tchaikovsky is always great when you hear him as a lumpy sum of eccentric parts, Mravinsky style, rather than as swelling waves.

Is anyone else going this year?

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Is anyone else going this year?

I'm going tomorrow afternoon (Snow: Zahorian/Domitro; SPF: Chung - she should be terrific; GPdD: Tan/Martin Cintas) and, if the weather stays dry, Sunday afternoon (Snow: Kepley/Spaulding - really looking forward to these two; I've never seen her at all and never seen the promising Spaulding in a classical role); SPF: Altman (happy to see her in anything although this doesn't strike me as a natural role for her statuesque elegance); GPdD: Zahorian/Domitro. Also possibly next Saturday although I may decide to venture over to Oakland and catch the Oakland Ballet's Carlos Carvajal Nut, which I've heard is pretty good.

Thanks for the reports, Quiggin; you've really whet my appetite!

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I haven’t seen the DVD of the San Francisco production mentioned in another thread but I wanted to say how important I thought the transformation of the Nutcracker to Prince is to the structure of the live one -- it has a little of the feeling of a Shakespearean recognition scene. It’s the moment when Drosselmeyer takes orange mophead off the stiff-bodied Nutcracker and the spirit of the Prince is decanted and affirms and extends itself in graceful corkscrew turns and a series of smooth jumps.

And we have had three beautiful versions of this this past week from Gennadi Nedvigin, Taras Domitro and Vitor Luiz who has just joined the company. (He also made a brilliant guest cameo in Russian one afternoon.) You can mistake Vitor for Taras at first, at first when his bowed, newly hatched head moves up to look out over the audience -- their curliness of hair and their coloring is similar -- but Vitor, with great ease and fullness, develops everything that lies within his Leonardo-like circumference, whereas Taras glances out beyond his sphere of restraint and then floats down on imaginary updrafts. Gennadi’s jumps look like he is slipping over the saddle of a horse, with a pause just beyond the summit. The mime of all three dancers is equally fine.

The other great moments in this Nutcracker, perhaps by default -- the last half is so spartan -- are 1) the presentation to and blessing of the King & Queen of the Snow, the loan of the chariot, the beautiful horses pawing the ground, and the obliteration of everything in a white-out of snow. 2) The extended mime narrative and reenactment of everything that has happened so far by the Nutcracker prince to the Sugar Plum Fairy, sword stroke by sword stroke, leap by leap, even the dance of liberation in miniature, some done parts lightly, some parts serious / mock serious. They’re like the scene Watteau painted of the inventory the pictures in his dealer’s shop and his patrons going over them one by one. 3) The Apotheosis with the carousel of the community of Clara’s dream (or delirium) moving around in little skip-steps of concentric circles. This is where the curtain falls in the original.

In addition to Maria Kochetkova with her elastic musical line, Sofiane Sylve with her free sculptural inventiveness, Lorena Feijoo with her great contrasts of large and small, and Yuri Possokhov’s mad improvisions, other pleasures of this run have come from Daniel Deivison-Oliveira in Chinese with pure and easy cartwheels over his delicately planted wrist, Lily Rogers in Arabian and Diego Cruz and the delightful Miriam Rowan in Spanish, Julianne Kepley as a Sugar Plum Fairy of great character and personality and the many snowflakes whose names and faces move much too fast to match.

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