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Tonight I officially start my own Nutcrackthon...! :P

My first production is from Florida Classical Ballet, which takes place at the charming Olympia Theater downtown. This is a small troupe just created by Miss Magaly Suarez. Miss Suarez is an experienced ex Cuban National Ballet's teacher and regisseur, and until recently the main head and brain behind the creation and development of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami. After departing her own way she founded this company, which is a mixed of students of her own school and guests Principals from different companies. According to the website, Joseph Gatti, from Boston Ballet, will guest tonight. Suarez danced in the Alonso-after-Fedorova production back in the days, and her staging of the Nutcracker honors her recollections.

Will report back. :thumbsup:

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isn't Magaly's Nutcracker at the Gusman tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 11) at 8 pm? I hope so - I'm going! :-)

From her Facebook page (The Art of Classical Ballet)

Tomorrow, December 11

Florida Classical Ballet presents "The Nutcacker"

Where: Gusman Center for the Performing Arts

When: Tomorrow from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm

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Yes!! OMG, Mira...thank God you wrote this! I've been looking at the wrong date in my watch for like 5 days now...(another early Alzheimer moment, I know...). I even brought the clothes and everything to change and go after work...and even told my mother to meet me at the theater... :blushing: Now I have to call her and tell her.

Now, tomorrow I had already planned to attend the Saint Petersburg Classic Russian Ballet , which basically follows Vainonen's staging-(which I like in certain sections...)

But...I'll stick with Mamicha/Fedorova instead... :thumbsup:

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ok good glad I could help.

major annoyance going to downtown Miami for no show - especially with Mom!


I know...! :P . Well, not only am I trading the Russians for the Floridians, but also I just realized that the Hubbard Street Dance troupe from Chicago-(which I had been planning to see)-is also performing tonight...but you know...Ivanov call is more urgent... :wink:

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Mira..I did have a great night. I loved seeing the full house, and the production, if maybe too ambitious for Mamicha's current resources, both economical and human, it was very lovely, particularly the snow scene. I just wish Suarez would take a little liberty and ignore Fedorova's cut of the music during the Grand Adagio... :) . She used teen girls and boys for the party, and so all the girls were on pointe, but totally credible as girls...(I think this is the right choice...to use young students, but old enough to display technique..). For the first time I was not annoyed by the kids playing mice onstage. They were very cute, because there were a lot of girls, with little tutus, and they were rehearsed to be naughty and annoying around Clara, instead of violent...Clara looked very fed up and wanted to kill them all...! :D

Something I want to note...the Sugar Plum Fairy was danced by Mayara Pineiro, and Prince Coqueluche by charismatic First Soloist Joseph Gatti, from Boston Ballet.About Pineiro, here's some background, from a friend's e-mail I received a while ago...

"Here is a video that I think you will enjoy. It is about a girl named Mayara who defected about a year ago when a group of students from the Cuban National Ballet School were performing in Canada. I got the chance to meet her when I was visiting Mamicha last summer. She was actually only 17 when she defected, so technically, she couldn't. She went through a very scary ordeal in the police station in Buffalo, NY, where she almost got sent back to Cuba because she was under age. She then went to live with her aunt and uncle in Orlando, who, in the video appear to be very supportive of her dancing,

but actually wanted her to get a job, which didn't allow her time to study ballet anymore. One day, one of Magaly's former boy students (also Cuban, but they didn't know each other before), walked into the store where she was working. It was fate and they started dating, and last summer he brought her to Magaly.

She is now living with Mamicha, and just two weeks ago she won the gold medal for her Esmeralda in the Tampa regionals of Youth America Grand Prix."


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Just to clarify...

Magaly's new company is Florida Classical Ballet, FCB; there is another company in Palm Beach named Florida Classical Ballet Theater.

Thanks for the clarification! I edited the OP accordingly. :thumbsup:

Moving on:

I just came from the MCB opening night. Theirs is, as we all know, a Balanchine production. I won't be talking about his staging per se, for which I've done this at length before, but rather about the ups and downs of tonight's performance.

The Downs:

A charmless Clara and Nutcracker kid. If the main thing of Balanchine's staging is to make real children the heart and soul of the ballet, then they better try to make them more alive next time. This observation is extended to the party kids, which at some points were like little lifeless robots following given steps, many times not even smiling. In Act II Clara and the Nut looked as if they had been placed in time out in the back of the stage. Where are the gestures of amusement and the surprised faces when presented with such feast...? Also, in the video they are given a table full of candy and other delicacies, so they can be entertained eating-(as kids usually do)-while watching the show. If this is not part of the original thing, then it was a great idea to insert it.

The Snow Scene's tutus. The romantic skirts didn't move too much. They were stiff and not very full, thus totally breaking the illusion of the floating entities swirling across the stage that worked so beautifully in the video. Also they didn't have the right attack that got me so much-(again)-in the DVD. Those were crazy snowflakes, at some point even looking as if they were really the body of a snow storm, right when the snow starts making this concentric movements with the wind. The Miamians snowflakes were sweet smiling girls...too sweet.

The substitution of the devices the snowflakes have in their hands, from the ones resembling real snowflakes -(and very much like the original Imperial ones)-to silver glittery branches, again loosing the intended effect.

The mourning of the Company's loss of the BEST Candy Cane-(Daniel Baker) and Tea-(Alex Wong) I've EVER seen. Baker's jumps with that hoop and Wong's Grand Ecartes were priceless.

The absence of live music, which made the whole thing look even more schoolish than ever...

The Ups.

Two dancers made the night for me. Principal Patricia Delgado as a wonderful Dewdrop and Corps member Nicole Stalker, who was FEARLESS and committed to light up the stage during the Waltz of the Flowers. :clapping:

At the end of the story, I should say that the auditorium was packed, and people had a great time, according to the cheering heard during curtain calls, so don't mind my non sense rampage. If the audience is happy and nice revenues are collected, then the mission has been accomplished.

Next, Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami-(tomorrow night).

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cristian, I don't know, because I haven't seen it, but my guess is that even though the MCB follows Balanchine's choreography, it's a much smaller company with much smaller resources, so there are some major differences with the production now playing at the NYCB. (Although I've seen disastrous, lifeless performances of the Nut at the NYCB too.)

Re: the children, the SAB is right in NY, across the plaza in fact, and every year children are handpicked to be in the Nutcracker. They rehearse a lot and thus often give the best performances bar none. At MCB I would guess the situation is much more difficult.

About the costumes and snow wands, that is strange because I agree, they are one of the best parts of the Balanchine production. At the NYCB they've always been fluttery and soft, to give the illusion of a real whirling snowstorm, and the orchestra always accelerates the music faster and faster, as the snowflakes dance up a blizzard (forgive the pun).

I think part of the issue is the recorded music. A live conductor can create effects seemingly spontaneously, like the one I spoke of above. But when it's recorded music, seems as if the dancers would have to rehearse carefully to that recording and that recording only, to make sure nothing is "off." I imagine the effect on dancers must be a loss of spontaneity and musicality.

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Just to clarify...

Magaly's new company is Florida Classical Ballet, FCB; there is another company in Palm Beach named Florida Classical Ballet Theater.

off%20topic.gif The latter company, is based in Palm Beach Gardens. It is a school company.

Cristian, I want to have the chance to read your MCB review more thoroughly but have to run out now. I certainly agree with your sadness about the loss of thrilling dancers like Wong and Baker. Glad that Patricia Delgado's Dewdrop was so good, since she was somehow (oddly, actually) "off" at the Kravis Center a few weeks ago, even falling off point twice, something I wouldn't imagine had ever happened before to such a skilled performer.

I'm happy also that the house was packed and enthusiastic. We get MCB's Nutcracker so early in the season that people haven't really gotten their enthusiasm together yet. On Saturday night it was a smallish house, quite warm and attentive, but lacking in what develops as you get closer to Christmas..

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Over my super busy weekend, I was able to catch the Kirova Ballet production of the Nutcracker. This is the first season of this local ballet company/academy located in Hallandale, FL. Their founders, Boris Chapelev and Janna Kirova, are both ex Kirov dancers, and after recently relocated down here they have been focused on "bringing the art of authentic Russian Classical Ballet performances to its audience"-(via the company)-and "provide the very best in authentic Russian Classical Ballet training and to become one of the very best training centers for ballet dancers in US"-(via their brand new 6700 sf Academy), all this according to the programme notes.

Anyway, theirs was a production loosely based on Vainonen's-(as I noticed is also the case with every touring Russian troupe). Vainonen's version-(just as Grigorovitch and the short lived Baryshnikov's)-just doesn't work for me, for which it totally destroys the story line by deleting important characters-(Sugar Plum Fairy/Coqueluche) and transforms Clara into an adult, thus totally altering the very essence of this ballet. This is the main thing I love about Balanchine's...that he-(just as with Fedorova's and Wright's)-respects the beautiful original libretto, one that doesn't need any changes, BTW.

I was surprised with the luxury of the sets and costumes. The battle scene had soldiers on horses-(a costume device with the horse attached to the kid along with fake human legs). It was very pleasant to watch, and in the beginning of Act II, Clara and the Nutcracker’s arrived in a troika pulled by an unicorn…a real beautiful white horse with a long horn attached…I was REALLY surprised…

Well, I won’t be talking too much about the performers, for which I know the policy about reviewing only professional dancers here, but I really have to mention the two girls and the boy of the Pas de Trois-(Marzipan divertissement). This is a Pas de Trois that I always enjoy a lot in this Russian productions. It was so lovely to watch this three very serious kids with their rococo costumes and dancing like adults, the girls on pointe and full tutu regalia, the boy the perfect cavalier, all with wigs and everything. So so cute. The programme listed four names-(probably two casts for the two days)…Phoenix Elmer, Tyller Dieckhas, Nina Fusco and Tate Lee. My friend agreed with me that this was the highlight of the night. :clapping:

Moving on, the main reason I went to see this production was because Veronika Part would be dancing Clara's role. I kept telling my friend, “Veronika this” and “Veronika that” and that “she's an ABT’s Principal” and that “she's the Myrtha you'll see at Vishneva's Giselle” and on and on…

And so then...…what a total disappointment was to see a nervous, unprepared ballerina with no chemistry whatsoever with her partner-(ABT’s Gray Davis) and with no relationship at all with the role being portrayed. She didn’t looked comfortable during his over-shoulder lifts. I assumed that she just came probably the very day of the performance, and danced whatever she knew from previous stagings-(I believe she danced previously in McKenzie’s production…?). The Grand Pas de Deux was a total cut and paste from different choreographies. The Adagio was Ivanov, with the Fedorova’s music cut but with the suppression of its most thrilling moment, the pendulum-like swinging of the ballerina by the partner carrying her upside down by the waist. When I saw Davis I knew that there was no way that he could have done this with too tall for him Part. But THAT type of things is what really gets me mad. If you CAN’T dance a given step in a choreography, you shouldn’t be up there trying to cover up with inventions. I can’t stand that. That’s the most beautiful part of the Adagio, and from the Fonteyn/Helpmann clip to the Alonso/Esquivel to the Collier/Dowell, it is clear that this is the climax, so please, don’t ruin it and try harder to get it right.…

The male variation was exactly as the one danced in Havana-(which is not the same danced by Dowell…), and then her variation came, and THERE’S where I couldn’t tell any longer what was going on.

Part danced something that she obviously knew very well, and which wasn’t Ivanov nor Vainonen’s . I have the high suspicion that this is from Ratmansky’s new staging. At one point she did a peek-a-boo thing behind one of the wings curtains...VERY strange.

The end of the ballet had Clara waking up from her dram next to the Nutcracker doll.

I was disappointed with Veronika, and this is the second time I see her dancing, the first one as the Lilac Fairy. Next will be her Myrtha, so I will keep my fingers crossed, as I’ve heard really good things here about her in this role. :beg:

Up next...…MCB again…

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So tonight I decided to take my friend and my mother to see Balanchines Nutcracker, and voila...I had an epiphany…THIS IS THE NUTCRACKER!!. It is definitely glorious…and time came for me to confess it. If I would be left only to see the Snow Scene and the Waltz of the Flowers, I would still be equally happy, for which they are two of the most beautiful ballet moments Ive ever seen in my entire career as a balletomane…

I never sit upstairs, for which I have very poor eyesight, and so center orchestra is always my choice, but tonight I wanted to really see the patterns of the snowflakes and the flowers, and being up there certainly changed my whole perspective on the ballet. There is a moment when several rows of flowers execute a developpe devant, one row right behind the other one to then fall in the floor to a white swan position, arms extended, head facing down that is just breathless…same with the snowflakes, when at one point they get all grouped together and right to a sharp chord they extend their arms and lower their heads while pointing their branches forward. Oh, thats SO beautiful…

Anyway, Im very happy to having been up there…it was like watching an entirely different ballet…and on the way not getting to see sweating faces and trembling hands.

BTW…theres a little story that needs to be told, but I will move it to a more appropriate place here

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Oh, that’s SO beautiful…

Anyway, I’m very happy to having been up there…it was like watching an entirely different ballet…and on the way not getting to see sweating faces and trembling hands.

Cristian, I'm so happy you loved this.

Balanchine's patterns are one of the joys of his ensemble pieces. I grew up with this, since my first NYCB experiences were all in the first balcony (first row if possible) of the old City Center. At the Kravis nowadays, I have watched these large-cast ballets from both orchestra and from higher up (actually, side boxes) and definitely prefer the latter. Incidentally, one of the all-too-brief pleasures of the 1973 German television video of Concerto Barocco -- linked on another thread -- was the occasional use of over-the-head cameras.

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So...this is the type of surprises we're subjected to experience down here with Villella's strange anti-stardom policies. There is always the chance of witnessing a company apprentice steal the show during curtain calls from the Principal Dancer. Yes...this was what just happened a while ago, when amazing Nathalia Arja-(last night's Sugar Plum Fairy)-brought the house down during curtain calls after dancing Dewdrop. It was very strange to see this very young girl-(completely unknown to me until now)-getting all the glory, and in the process shadowing a less than perfect Hayan Wu, tonight's SPF.

High point of the night:

Arja's Dewdrop and GREAT Corps member Sara Esty substituting Tricia Albertson as the Marzipan leading Shepherdess-(I hope this is her...I didn't catch the substitution announcement, and she looks very much like her sister Leigh-Anne, but I'm 99% positive that this was Sara).

Low point.

The SPF PDD...Wu and Yang Zou didn't look too comfortable dancing the Adagio...there were some faults and Wu looked tired.

I've been taking notes on certain details of Balanchine's production that I would like to inquire about, but...season is not over yet. I might go back tomorrow night... :thumbsup:

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So, sadly, it looks as if the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami had its swan song right after their Don Quixote performances. The Nutcracker, which was announced in their website, never happened. No update on the same website was ever available related to this, and even after the non show, the dates were still posted. RIP, CCBM :bow:

(Edited to add: Oops...I just double checked and saw that there's a whole new season planned, so let's see what happens... :dunno: )

Now, being out already and mentally prepared to have a theater experience no matter what, I instead went to the Lincoln Theater's own swan song. Yes, after a very productive live as a home of the New World Symphony, they have done their very last performance before they move in January to their brand new, glamorous Frank Gehry's Concert Hall. Will post details later on. :thumbsup:

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