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2014 Nutcracker BAM Season


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Saw the matinee. Too tired to write much, but I really didn't enjoy this version as much as I enjoyed the Balanchine (NYCB and PAB) and the Christensen version (Ballet West).

I hated the bees, even though the male dancers danced well. I just thought they took away from the flowers, which is usually my favorite part.

I hated the Russian dance. I thought it was too silly, not enough dancing. Especially compared to Ballet West's Russian dance, which was outstanding.

I didn't really like the Arabian dance. I kept wondering (because of this board) whether the male was suppose to be a eunuch or married. If he was a eunuch, I'd never have known that if someone hadn't said that here.

Things I enjoyed: the little mouse. That little guy had a boat load of energy and was adorable.

Stella Abrera. Add me to her "three fans" but she is just amazing. Her musicality and expressiveness blow me away. Every movement has meaning. She deserves a promotion, period. Honestly, I kind of hated this version of the Nutcracker until her and Hammoudi's PDD.

So I've seen four Nuts this year and I'd rank them as follows: NYCB, Ballet West, PAB, then ABT. Even gorgeous Stella couldn't save it for me.

Hi Kaysta, as someone who encouraged you to see Stella's performance, I agree with everything you liked and everything you hated in the production. The bees are as annoying as real bees. My "take" on the Arabian dance is that the guy just can't make up his mind. To me that's the meaning of the gesture where he touches his finger to his chin, as if to say, "Hmmmmm."

But Stella was stunning today, playful when appropriate, lyrical and musical throughout. In many of her movements she danced with the eloquence of Part, especially in the use of her arms and upper body. But I won't be sorry to see this production leave New York.

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I don't regret seeing it, since it's leaving for Cali. Maybe if I had seen it before the other versions I would have liked it better.

One thing I forgot to add: the costumes for this production are just GORGEOUS!!! I was sitting in the back of the mezzanine and the pink flower costumes just lit up the stage. All of the costumes were beautiful, one of the highlights of the show for me.

On an aside, yesterday's audience (at least where I was sitting) was so loud and inconsiderate. Children crying, people talking, phones lit up during performances, and ushers sitting folks who came in 20 minutes late. It was the worst. I guess I was lucky at my other Nut performances because the children were so well behaved. Not yesterday. Left a negative impression of BAM for me.

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One thing I forgot to add: the costumes for this production are just GORGEOUS!!! I was sitting in the back of the mezzanine and the pink flower costumes just lit up the stage. All of the costumes were beautiful, one of the highlights of the show for me.

On an aside, yesterday's audience (at least where I was sitting) was so loud and inconsiderate. Children crying, people talking, phones lit up during performances, and ushers sitting folks who came in 20 minutes late. It was the worst. I guess I was lucky at my other Nut performances because the children were so well behaved. Not yesterday. Left a negative impression of BAM for me.

I completely agree on the costuming! Those gorgeous ombre dresses are a vision when they are spinning on stage. The crisp, dazzling white of Clara and the Prince are stunning. (I was reminded of the Balanchine's Diamonds). Even with the moments I don't particularly relish (the bees), I find this ballet completely enjoyable for the beauty of the costumes. What gorgeous design.

Too bad about the audience yesterday, Kaysta. Last week, I was surrounded in front and behind by children. (Even though I have children myself, I inwardly groaned a little because I anticipated many distractions.) To my surprise, they were all extremely well behaved and even enjoying the ballet! Maybe I was lucky. :)

However, I do remember ushers seating people late into performance, walking all the way up the aisles and disturbing a large group of people who had to stand so that the latecomers could get to their seats... yikes! It did block the view of everyone behind for a minute or two.

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Sarah Lane and Joe Gorak were, well, magical Friday night. Didn't see any of the problem partnering that was mentioned here. They looked comfortable and adorable together. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I love Ratmansky's Nutcracker. I find it incredibly moving and I think his snow flake interpretation is brilliant. I am very sorry to see it move across the country.

I was there and I agree, they were magical. The only flaw I saw was that I think there could have been more abandon in the big lifts and there would have been if Gorak was a better partner. He still has work to do. But they were gorgeous, and they had great chemistry.

Its been 2 years since the last time I saw this production and I liked it better than I did in the past, though I still MUCH prefer the NYCB version. Ratmansky's snowflakes are beautifully extreme and I found the bees less annoying than I once did though, again, I much prefer Balanchine's version of the Waltz of the Flowers. This used to be the most annoying part of the production for me - I cringed all through it in the past. I still don't love it but this time I kind of enjoyed it. I felt the musicality in it, even if its still not my favorite treatment of this music.

BAM itself is my least favorite major venue. The late seating was annoying and continued through the evening, even at the beginning of act 2. Just getting to your seats is a pain. I was in the mezzanine and if you enter through the cafe they only have 1 door open so there is a huge line to get in up until the last minute. Didn't help that they only opened the auditorium 15 minutes before the curtain. Then I had adults behaving badly all evening - one crinkling a bag of candy all night and a couple behind me talking through the entire performance. I'm really dreading seeing the Mariinsky here next month. I mean I'm looking forward to the performances, but dreading the annoyances I now feel that we're bound to encounter at BAM.

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I imagine there are traffic flow issues that are particular to BAM -- almost all theaters have those kinds of glitches -- but I have a feeling that some of the audience behaviors are more due to the fact that it's Nutcracker, with a bigger percentage of first-time or occasional attendance. As a culture, we spend less and less time in large groups that expect a mostly silent attentiveness (more movies watched at home rather than in a theater) -- some people just forget that you're not supposed to make disruptive noise during a performance.

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Sarah Lane and Joe Gorak were, well, magical Friday night. Didn't see any of the problem partnering that was mentioned here. They looked comfortable and adorable together. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I love Ratmansky's Nutcracker. I find it incredibly moving and I think his snow flake interpretation is brilliant. I am very sorry to see it move across the country.

I heard that same thing from another source!

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What surprises me the most is that Ratmansky made virtually no revisions (at least to my eyes) over the years. I feel like the first act is pretty good, with the Snowflakes being a big highlight, and I really like many of Ratmansky's storytelling decisions (e.g., having adult dancers in the Nutcracker and Clara roles.) However, the second act feels decidedly unmagical -- from the spare sets to the bland character dances. And it seems like pretty much no one is a fan of adult Clara's peek-a-boo moment or her Vegas wedding bridal veil. The production has so much potential, and I just wish Ratmantsky would have reinvested some creative energy into tweaking the second act.

As for the poor ticket sales this year, I suspect most locals who wanted to see this production have already seen it. And if you're not a balletomane, you probably see no need to go back year after year. And I certainly agree with others that Lincoln Center has more of a tri-state draw than BAM does.

I think you hit the nail on the head re ticket sales, fondoffouttes. I happen to like this Nutcracker very much but even I have not attended every year. I think I went 2 years in a row then took a break then went back last year. I would have probably taken a break this year too had it not been their final season. I know this may be heresy but I'd grown a bit bored with the Balanchine Nutcracker and haven't attended in years, although I do have a recording that I'll watch just to see Bouder as Dewdrop. And I whole heartedly admit that a holiday trip to Lincoln Center for Nutcracker is much more magical than a trip to BAM.

9 of the 13 performances sold out, so don't understand where all the talks of poor box office coming from. And I paid full price for all of mine. I am sad to see this production left NY, hopefully it'll return in a few years. I quite like the setting of BAM, it has a neighborhood feel, surrounded by historical districts, and with all the restaurants, cafes, and shops just short strolls from the theater. The story could have set in one of those brownstones in the neighborhood.

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On the topic of ticket sales noted above, we attended last Saturday's performance, having bought tix 6 days in advance. When I bought them online, the mezzanine was barely booked, and were able to pick up aisle/center seats very near the balcony, with our pick of rows. But the mezz (andtheater as a whole) was utterly packed at the performance; so, unless there was a mad rush of people at the end, I wonder if there were some ticket distributions to schools/reduced price sales through Goldstar; etc. ABT have done that a bit at the Met, I understand.

Regardless, I'm disappointed to see this production go. While I appreciate Balanchine's (and we're still hemming and hawing about whether to catch NYCB's this season), it was nice to have the choice of heading over to Brooklyn to see a top drawer alternative that took a different approach in several interesting ways. With this final season, and PNB's decision to shelve their Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker (I travel to work for Seattle regularly) in favor of their "exciting" and new" approach of presenting...uhh....Balanchine's...it has been a vaguely depressing nutcracker season!

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