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ABT's Nutcracker returns to BAM

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I saw Part in the Nutcracker at BAM with Gomez. Magic was missing and she was not particularly graceful,

indeed she was quite heavy though striking perfect poses.

I see her in modern ballet where angularity may be a virtue but would never go to see her as Tatiana or Juliet,.

Nor sure that technical prowess is dancing.

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I don't think there are adequate words to describe Gomes and Part's partnership in the Nutcracker. After Lane and Gorak's disappointing outing on Thursday evening, in which many of the choreographic elements were barely etched, if at all, I felt as if I was seeing the steps come alive for the very first time during Part and Gomes's performance yesterday evening. Ratmansky's choreography for the two pas de deux is a minefield, but when executed effectively, it appears as is if Clara/The Princess is soaring, buoyed by the ecstasy of the first flights of love. Needless to say, Gomes ensured that all of the lifts were flawless. I'm always so anxious about the one-legged lift at the end of the second pas de deux that I had forgotten how beautifully the ballerina is released from that pose and then whirled about in the air. Gomes and Part made this look effortless and full of grace. When dancing individually, Gomes's spins were superb--lightning fast and crisp. His dancing is so sublime that I don't usually count rotations or think about how fast he executes spins. However, the spirit of Corella was there in those spins--gorgeous!

Yes, Gomes is a wonderful partner for just about any lucky lady who is cast with him, but I think he deserves special praise for the chemistry he engenders with Part. Watching them interact with one another during non-dancing moments in the ballet was a joy that almost equaled the high of seeing them dance the pas de deux.

Craig Salstein's artistry shone brightly in his performances as both Harlequin and as one of the Russian dancers. His wit, warmth, and keen dramatic sensibilities were as present as ever. ABT is so lucky to have someone like Salstein, who is committed to bringing every role vividly to life (in addition to dancing beautifully, of course.)

Bravo to Justin Souriau-Levine, who only seems to get better and better each year as the Little Mouse. Please don't grow up! If Gomes owns the role of Purple Rothbart, then Souriau-Levine certainly owns the Little Mouse!

The company as a whole looked leagues better than it did on Thursday evening. I've always felt that the bees are a bit much, but Thomas Forster, Luis Ribagorda, Calvin Royal, and Eric Tamm were marvelous. The bees can seem far too goofy, but these four outstanding dancers brought a much needed dose of elegance. I've never seen the roles performed more perfectly, and the throwing and catching of the flowers was impeccable. I'll mention, too, that Ribagorda danced beautifully as the Recruit in Act I. In the past two or three years his dancing has seemed particularly outstanding, and I hope we'll see him featured more often.

Gabe Stone Shayer replaced Gorak in the Chinese dance, and he was stellar. Perfect partnering and incredible spins. I would love to see him featured in more soloist roles at ABT. He clearly has talent to spare, as well as a warm, unassuming stage presence.

The orchestra sounded so much better under the baton of Ormbsy Wilkins.

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For me, the only couple at ABT I'm interested in seeing again in Nutcracker are Hallberg and Murphy. They were so brilliant, and all the other casts I've seen were unremarkable in comparison. Obviously, Hallberg will not be returning to do this role at ABT, so for the time being I have sworn off the ABT Nut.

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I went for the Sunday matinee on December 22nd. The announced cast was Sarah Lane/Joseph Gorak. Gorak was replaced by Jared Matthews. I hadn't read the earlier review of their first show, so I was disappointed that Gorak didn't dance. However, Matthews was really quite excellent and Sarah Lane was exquisite. Lane is tiny, easy to lift and gifted in terre-a-terre petite allegro which is helpful. Jared Matthews is taller with more upper body strength and greater partnering experience than Gorak, so the PDD had no bobbles. Jared whipped out some great pirouettes in the coda. That "man of many faces" Roman Zhurbin was first sinister then charming as Drosselmeyer.

I really think the grand pas needs a smaller lighter dancer as the "Dream Princess Clara". Another cast I really enjoyed in a previous season was Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo. Xiomara was feathery light and Herman partnered her beautifully. Lane had the same lightness mixed with classicism. I love Marcelo Gomes and Veronika Part. However, Part is a very grand ballerina with long limbs and she needs broader choreographic outlines with luxuriant adagio steps and jumps to work her magic. There are adagio and allegro technicians and Part is an adagio technician while Xiomara and Sarah Lane are allegro technicians with smaller limbs and greater speed.

The first act of the Ratmansky "Nut" has much more action and variety than the Balanchine at NYCB. The second act, I generally prefer Balanchine to Ratmansky. I like the Dewdrop ballerina in the Waltz of the Flowers (I saw a smashing Tiler Peck dance it a few Saturdays ago with Anna Sophia Scheller as the Sugarplum). I also prefer Balanchine's choreography for the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" which follows the music better. Ratmansky has the ballerina walking around during melodic sections where she should be dancing and doing big pirouettes where petite allegro tacqueté footwork and beats would fit the music better.

BAM looked well filled in the top balcony with young people and families with children. My ticket was $16.50 and I could see the stage fine.

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My high water mark for this Nutcracker is Hallberg and Murphy. But this year I wanted to see what Gomes and Part would do and I was not disappointed - that's a huge understatement. These couples are so different from each other that I wouldn't characterize one as being better than the other so suffice it to say that this performance was as breathtaking in its own way as the Hallberg/Murphy. I'm used to seeing Part with Stearns so it was thrilling to see what she can do with Gomes. And two such stunningly beautiful individuals. Btw, it looked as if Part had colored her hair a lighter brown with some auburn highlights. They both received sustained ovations and they looked overwhelmed with happiness. And I'll say it again - Roman Zhurbin can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. He was Grandfather at my performance and once more stole the show. I had taken a year off from this Nut and I left on cloud nine and so happy I had been there.

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Wanted to add that they were videotaping the performance on Sat evening. My New Year's wish is that it will be released on dvd. So much of the ABT rep deserves to be immortalized and this one is definitely one of the best!

Barbara - thank you so much for reporting this! My first thought upon exiting the theater Saturday evening was that I wished the performance had been recorded. Perhaps it will only be logged in the archives, but I'm glad the performance will be immortalized nonetheless. With the advent of HD transmissions and Sirius broadcasts, the Metropolitan Opera's performances have been recorded at an unprecedented frequency over the past seven years. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for ABT and NYCB. How wonderful would it have been if one of this fall's Balanchine Black & White performances had been recorded?

It's hard to believe (or perhaps too easy to believe) that ABT's last commercial recording was the 2005 Swan Lake. Will we ever have films of David Hallberg, Veronika Part, and Diana Vishneva's inestimable contributions to ABT? Perhaps the DVD release model is no longer profitable, but I would be more than willing to pay for live streaming videos.

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