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Friday, December 13


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Washington Ballet reaches out to inner-city kids.

Unlike many companies of the past, the Washington Ballet puts a premium on diversity. "Art is at its most powerful when people can see themselves in the art," says Septime Webre, Artistic Director at the Washington Ballet.

"We want our ballet company and our school to reflect what our city looks like," adds Katrina Toews, Director of TWB at THEARC.

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A review of Scottish Ballet in "Hansel and Gretel" by Alice Bain in The Guardian.

The result is palatable – a little monochrome visually in the first half, but later spiced with colourful morsels. Most memorable is the Witch, danced by the adaptable Eve Mutso: she glides in and out of the narrative, first as a school teacher, then as a glamour puss – even at one stage flying in a moon – before heading towards the inevitable roasting. She's pantomime-scary, resembling a hunchback dame as she chases Hansel and Gretel around her food-laden table, scratching her bald head.

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A review of the UNC School of the Arts' Nutcracker by Lynn Felder for Winston-Salem Relish.

Gonzalo Garcia of New York City Ballet partnered her [Gillian Murphy] gallantly and ably. His jetes defied gravity with plenty of hang time, and his lifts with Murphy were seamless.

Charles Barker, principal conductor at ABT, conducted the student UNCSA Nutcracker Orchestra and Winston-Salem Youth Chorus.

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A review of the Charleston Ballet's Nutcracker by David in The Charleston Gazette.

Guest conductor Robert Turizziani, who is the orchestra's principal clarinetist and personnel manager, led with an economy of movement, letting the players play. The local orchestra responded with warm and colorful tone, vibrant rhythm and excellent details in texture. (Full disclosure: I work with Turizziani with the West Virginia Youth Symphony and he has also commissioned or premiered a number of my compositions). A missed trumpet note seemed the only mistake.

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Maria Kowroski describes the meaning Rihanna's "We Found Love" holds for her.

The lyrics also have a special meaning: "It's the way I'm feeling / I just can't deny / But I've gotta let it go / We found love in a hopeless place." In my personal life, I had felt like I was in a hopeless place until 2008, when I unexpectedly met my future husband in Vail, Colo. I was dancing there and we were paired together. We married two years later.

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A review of the English National Ballet by Neil Norman in The Daily Express.

While he doesn’t improve on Petipa and Ivanov’s surviving choreography and plays fast and loose with Tchaikovsky’s score, Eagling brings a wealth of detail to the stage, peppering it with incidental episodes such as Louise’s pursuit by a trio of suitors and Clara’s prepubescent yearning for Drosselmeyer’s Nephew (Vadim Muntagirov).

As the grown-up Clara (how did that happen?) Daria Klimentová is wonderful, creating the illusion of fresh-faced adolescence through crisp, precise footwork and swooning upper body movement. Theirs is now a partnership that is very hard to beat on any stage and one dreads the day she finally hangs up her pointe shoes.

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A review of Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre by Jeffrey Gantz in The Boston Globe.

This has always been a colorful “Nutcracker.” The five party ladies sport gowns of various styles and bright hues, all hoop skirts over pantalettes. The dozen soldiers are dressed handsomely in red and blue with gold trim; the ladies in the Waltz of the Flowers come on in troupes of yellow, pink, and purple. The dancers have to scramble in and out of costumes. Thursday, Amanda Kostreva was first a dream fairy, then a party parent, then a snowflake, then one of the two Chinese dancers in Tea, and finally one of the pink flowers — and that was typical, at least for the ladies in the company. The changes were all managed well. There’s also a huge number of children in this production; Thursday’s group did themselves proud.

I wish I could be as positive about the actual dancing.....

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A best-of-2013 list by Laura Molzahn in The Chicago Tribune.

"Nijinsky," Hamburg Ballet, February at the Harris Theater: John Neumeier's lifelong fascination with mad genius Vaslav Nijinsky drove this 2000 evening-length ballet, which splintered character and narrative into shards as disordered as the great choreographer's mind. Full-bodied performances, a strong sense of Nijinsky's time, place and character, and Neumeier's combined realism and fantasy made for a memorable, long-overdue Chicago debut by the 40-year-old Hamburg Ballet.

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Ballet Northwest and Studio West present their respective Nutcrackers.

Ballet Northwest did try other holiday ballets in the ’80s and early ’90s. “Years and years ago, Ballet Northwest actually did ‘The Nutcracker’ every other year and alternated with a ballet version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and later with the wonderful ballet ‘Coppelia,’” Ken Johnson said. “But dancers and audiences really enjoyed ‘The Nutcracker’ year after year.”

Also, learning “The Nutcracker” is an important part of a dancer’s education, Studio West’s Wood said.

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An interview with Charlotte Bowlby on teaching and coaching the kids through Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Nutcracker.

While she might be able to get by on her attitude and enthusiasm alone, Bowlby also has gained some useful insight into kids and learned some techniques that help her stay even-keeled while teaching. One point she repeats is that kids are not to be treated as if they were adults in miniature.

“They’re little kids. And you expect them to be little kids,” said Bowlby, who has three kids and a 4-year-old granddaughter, who is among her current students. “You have to understand each age level they’re at. You have to expect a 3- or 4-year-old to be a 3- or 4-year-old.”

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Misty Copeland is filming a documentary about her life.

In 2007, Copeland made history by becoming the third black female soloist at the American Ballet Theatre and has maintained a high profile performing with recording artist, Prince and receiving praise from major magazines. Still she is focused on shattering even more barriers in her field. "I am still fighting. The fight is making it to be a principal dancer in an elite white classical company which has never been done before by a black female dancer."

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Connecticut Ballet presents its thirtieth Nutcracker.

She said it also has been an honor to work with the guest dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, who will perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier. Returning for another year is Julie Kent, Veronika Part and Alexandre Hammoudi -- the latter two made their Connecticut Ballet debut last year. Jared Matthews will round out the quartet, which will alternate their performances. Matthews performed last year in the New England Ballet Company's "Nutcracker" at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport.

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Brian Seibert selects dance highlights of 2013 in The New York Times.

That same week, Justin Peck held a premiere of “Paz de La Jolla,” the third piece for New York City Ballet from this choreographer who only just emerged from the corps de ballet. It wasn’t as good as his first two, but it was more than good enough — fresh, imaginative — to augur a major career

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Alastair Macaulay's picks for 2013.

6. ‘Shostakovich Trilogy’ Of the five world premieres I caught by Alexei Ratmansky in 2013, all showed his gifts for poetry — but usually in incident rather than in grand plan. And all contained too-conventional patches. Only in his “Shostakovich Trilogy” (at American Ballet Theater in May and June) was there important evidence of large-scale imagination. This is dance theater of a kind we haven’t encountered before. It expresses the conflicting pressures of artistic life in early Soviet Russia; heroism and anxiety strangely overlap.

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A story on Nevada Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker.

Over the past two years, NBT has seen increased longevity in sponsorships and ticket sales, hitting a record performance high of 12,000 attendees for last year’s “Nutcracker” — a figure as crucial as it is laudable, as the production cost NBT two-thirds of its annual budget.

“Do you build a ‘Nutcracker’ every year? No. This is something that’s an investment for 10 years,” Canfield says. “It really is a community effort, and that’s been the biggest asset. It’s allowed the production to stay local, and to take this holiday classic and reimagine it — it’s important that you can come and see it for the first time again.”

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Sandra Organ-Solis calls it quits for her company, Earthen Vessels.

With an annual budget that fluctuated between $90,000 and $200,000, keeping a small-to-midsize company afloat was a struggle, she said. "We were doing good work and paying dancers well, sometimes at my own expense. ... You get to a certain age and think, 'I can't retire on my laurels.' "

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A review of Dances Patrelle's Nutcracker by Holly Kerr for Broadway World.

This enchanting holiday treat takes place in New York City locales such as the Crystal Palace at the New York Botanical Gardens, the Central Park skating pond and Gracie Mansion. The December 8th final performance was both a triumphant and sad one, as Ms. Ringer, the glorious Sugar Plum Fairy of this production for 17 years, danced her final performance. Ms. Ringer is also retiring from New York City Ballet this spring.
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Veterans of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens' Nutcracker reminisce about performing in the production as children.

“Each role was different and each was special,” said Engel, who a year after her Clara appearance in 1996 danced the role of the spunky, irreverent Black Sheep who refuses to listen to the Shepherd’s commands. “You gave everything you had. It was another feeling when you danced before an audience. We transmitted our passion — an indescribable feeling. I think about that today when I watch The Nutcracker.”

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Memorable performers from 2013 noted by Gia Kourlas in The New York Times.

Just as Ms. Dvorovenko, who is retiring this year, proved that there is life after American Ballet Theater, Simone Messmer, one of that company’s most gifted members, left to forge a new beginning at San Francisco Ballet. It’s a loss. At least there’s always room for youth: Calvin Royal III, a member of Ballet Theater’s corps, asserted himself as a magnetic force in Alexei Ratmansky’s “Piano Concerto #1.”

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Pavel Dmitrichenko's defense tries to get his sentence overturned.

Dmitrichenko was sentenced by the Meschansky District Court of Moscow on December 3 to 6 years in prison. The court ruled that other defendants in the trial – former convict Yuri Zarutsky, who carried out the attack, and driver Andrei Lipatov – only did the jobs that had been assigned to them by Dmitrichenko.
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