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ABT 2016 Nutcracker Casting

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CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR ABT'S PERFORMANCES OF THE NUTCRACKER AT SEGERSTROM CENTER FOR THE ARTS


 

Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo Lead Opening Night Cast

December 9-18, 2016 in Segerstrom Hall
Tickets On Sale Now


 
9/12/2016 - COSTA MESA, CA – Casting for American Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker, co-presented by Segerstrom Center for the Arts and ABT, was announced today by Kevin McKenzie, ABT Artistic Director and Terry Dwyer, Segerstrom Center President. Choreographed by ABT Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky, The Nutcracker will be given 12 performances at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, December 9-18, 2016. The Nutcracker, set to music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, features choreography by Alexei Ratmansky, scenery and costumes by award-winning designer Richard Hudson and lighting by Jennifer Tipton. The Pacific Symphony performs the beloved holiday score. In the Los Angeles Timesreview from last year’s inaugural Center performance, it declared, “Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky has made his own Christmas miracle: a joyful ‘Nutcracker’ ballet that is ravishing and clever enough to inspire multiple viewings.”

 

Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo will lead the opening night cast of The Nutcracker dancing the roles of Clara, the Princess and Nutcracker, the Prince, respectively. Subsequent casts include Hee Seo and Cory StearnsGillian Murphy and James WhitesideIsabella Boylston and Jeffrey CirioStella Abrera and Alexandre Hammoudi, and Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak in the leading roles.

The engagement of The Nutcracker continues an on-going relationship between Segerstrom Center and American Ballet Theatre. The Company has appeared at the Center since the beginning in 1987. At the Center, ABT gave the world premiere of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s Swan Lake in 1988, the West Coast premiere of Kevin McKenzie’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty in 2007 and the world premiere of a new production of Firebird by Alexei Ratmansky in 2012. In 2008, the Center and ABT co-commissioned Twyla Tharp¹s Rabbit and Rogue, receiving its world premiere in New York and West Coast premiere at the Center. In 1999, ABT’s production of Le Corsaire was taped in Segerstrom Hall for broadcast on PBS’ Dance In America, winning an Emmy Award. In 2003, The Dream was also taped at the Center for broadcast on Dance In America. In March 2015, Segerstrom Center presented the world premiere of ABT’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty as choreographed by Maurius Petipa with staging and additional choreography by Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky. In March of 2017, ABT will return to the Center performing in a world premiere work by Ratmansky.

 

Principal Casting for The Nutcracker at Segerstrom Center the Arts

Artists and program are subject to change.

Friday, December 9 at 7 p.m.

Misty Copeland
Herman Cornejo

 

Sunday, December 11 at 12:30 p.m.

Isabella Boylston
Jeffrey Cirio

 

Thursday, December 15 at 7 p.m.

Isabella Boylston
Jeffrey Cirio

 

Saturday, December 17 at 7 p.m.

Misty Copeland
Herman Cornejo

 

Saturday, December 10 at 2 p.m.

Hee Seo
Cory Stearns

 

Sunday, December 11 at 5:30 p.m.

Hee Seo
Cory Stearns

 

Friday, December 16 at 7 p.m.

Misty Copeland
Herman Cornejo

 

Sunday, December 18 at 12:30 p.m.

Sarah Lane
Joseph Gorak

 

Saturday, December 10 at 7 p.m.

Gillian Murphy
James Whiteside

 

Wednesday, December 14 at 7 p.m.

Gillian Murphy
James Whiteside

 

Saturday, December 17 at 2 p.m.

Stella Abrera
Alexandre Hammoudi

 

Sunday, December 18 at 5:30 p.m.

Stella Abrera
Alexandre Hammoudi

 

 

Single tickets for American Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker start at $29 are now available online at SCFTA.org, at the Box Office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa or by calling (714) 556-2787. For inquiries about group ticket discounts for 10 or more, call the Group Services office at (714) 755-0236. Special Sweet Seats are available for every performance and include:

•           Premier seating location in Orchestra rows A - F

•           Exclusive pre-show selfie opportunity with ABT dancer

•           Premium box of sweet treats

•           Nutcracker ornament

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I will probably wait to swap the tickets to see if there's any injuries but I ended up with two Boylston/Cirio performances and Abrera/Hammoudi  (which I will not swap!). I'm disappointed there's only one Lane/Gorak show (which I can't attend) and that there's not debuts--even though I see that everyone's getting fair time, casting wise. No Part, though :angry2:

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2 hours ago, ksk04 said:

I will probably wait to swap the tickets to see if there's any injuries but I ended up with two Boylston/Cirio performances and Abrera/Hammoudi  (which I will not swap!). I'm disappointed there's only one Lane/Gorak show (which I can't attend) and that there's not debuts--even though I see that everyone's getting fair time, casting wise. No Part, though :angry2:

Interesting there is no Part.  She was cast in the first production of the piece.  Sorry there is only one Lane/Gorak show but Lane is the only soloist cast.  

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Last year I saw Murphy/Whiteside and Lane/Simkin. Part was supposed to have opening night, but I think she was ill because Murphy danced instead. I think that was the only change, but I may not be remembering everything. 

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12 hours ago, ksk04 said:

No Part, though :angry2:

 

I am also surprised at no Gomes. He was cast last year.

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Since he was partnered with Part last year I'm guessing one of them is unavailable this year. They've also gone from 14 shows to 12 and have Copeland dancing in 3 rather than 2, so I'm wondering if tickets will be harder to get the longer one waits to buy them. 

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Gomes actually didn't end up dancing with Part, I don't think. Gillian Murphy danced with him on the night I was there (substituted for Part) and maybe Hee Seo did for Part's other scheduled performance? Not quite sure I remember.

 

I would assume the Misty shows will sell out, so I wouldn't wait to buy tickets to them if that is what you want to see.

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I suppose the "sell out" factor plus hometown girl is the reason Misty gets 3 performances and everyone else gets 2 except for Sarah Lane's 1? I'm not being snarky, truly wondering. I know Sarah isn't a principal but she could have danced a second performance. Also, it seems if a dancer at ABT is injured and has to be recast that Mr. McKenzie overlooks them for future casting? Ala Stella in Giselle and now Veronika in Nutcracker? I understand there must be a myriad of reasons behind casting that the public doesn't understand but this is the perception.

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I am just going to guess here, but many of the dancers have opportunities to guest at Nutcracker.  Note that Simkin is not dancing and I don't think he did last year either.  Sarah Lane usually has several guestings and it could be that she is only available that one weekend.  I believe the company tries to balance availability with opportunities for dancers.  As far as Gomes and Part, I am guessing once again, but both are getting into their upper 30's (I believe Part is 38 and Gomes will be 37 or close to it?)  Dancing in The Nutcracker is just not important any longer.  I know many dancers who would love to take themselves out of Nutcracker each year.  

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Simkin danced with Lane at both of her shows last year. I'm guessing some of casting has to do with availability, but I think Misty getting three shows has a lot to do with ticket sales. Or, to be less cynical, giving more of her local fans an opportunity to see her perform. I checked last night and ticket availability for her shows is already less than other shows. My daughter was one of the children dancing in the production last year. We don't find out which shows our kids will be performing in until late in the game. This year people know that if they want to see Misty they will have to buy tickets first and then hope it's the same night their child performs. I'm hoping to see Stella this year. 

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Gorak was a last-minute cancellation at the friends dress rehearsal on the day of the opening. Whiteside (in practice clothes) partnered Boylston instead. I don't recall when Part cancelled, but Gomes and Murphy did opening and Murphy and Seo filled in for other Part scheduling, as I remember.

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According to ABT's calendar, Joseph Gorak has been replaced by Jeffrey Cirio.

 

I believe he was also replaced last year. I wonder if this is an injury problem or if he has some technical issue with the character (I recall him having some trouble with the difficult lifts a while back). I hope it's not an injury, but if it is I certainly hope he recovers soon.

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I went to my first Nutcracker of the run this afternoon, lead by Boylston/Cirio. It was not the sharpest effort and the whole production seemed to lack the sparkle of last year. I'm not sure if it's coaching or an underwhelming cast, but stuff like the Mice Battle just seemed really muddled. I knew what was supposed to happen from last year, but lots of key moments seemed to fade into the background. The Arabian dance similarly seemed to slip in and out of the required narrative which is fairly crucial for the choreography to work. Even Skylar Brandt (Chinese) who was stunning last year seemed less crisp. For me, I haven't seen Boylston in a classical role in awhile and she didn't really impress; neither did Cirio. They were the best in the intro to the Snow scene but I think that scene is almost foolproof. Lack of projection, romance, spontaneity, warmth, etc from both of them. Boylston is capable of some nice technical things but there is not a lot of harmony between the parts of her body, unfortunately. There was some shoddy corps work as well. In the Snow scene one dance just stopped doing chainees and walked to her spot while other dancers swirled around her. In Waltz, another couldn't muster a full split when the flowers drop to the floor and raise their legs in penchee. I have tickets for Murphy/Whiteside and Abrera/Hammoudi as well, so hopefully everything will perk and sharpen?

 

If there are any additional questions about casting let me know.

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I saw Murphy/Whiteside on Saturday night and it was great. I was also at the Boylston/Cirio show this afternoon and was less impressed. I will see an Abrera/Hammoudi show as well. I'd love to hear your reactions to the other shows. I'm not well-versed enough to give a good review, but I love to read what others thought. 

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Interesting reading these comments. I have tickets to the last two shows on December 18, with Lane/Cirio in the matinee, and Abrera/Hammoudi in the closing performance. I missed Lane last year and am particularly looking forward to seeing her.  

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The biggest problem with ABT's Nutcracker is their lack of time in rehearsal.  They have a full month of lay-off after their fall rep program.  They did not come back to start rehearsing Nutcracker until November 29.  This basically gave them one week to rehearse the show prior to leaving for Orange County.  This is just not enough time to put this show up and to do it well.  Additionally, while many of them have performed their roles before and have that advantage, there are new people who must be inserted into the corps.  

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Isn't Joseph Gorak partnering Sarah?  Ratmansky's Nutcracker Grand Pas (not sure what they call it) ranks among the most difficult in the ballet rep and how is it possible for even one couple to get enough rehearsal to do that perfectly especially if they don't start rehearsing until Nov. 29?    If Sarah is now dancing the pas with Jeff Cirio (Isabella's partner) - how does he get enough rehearsal to do those tricky parts with two different girls?

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7 hours ago, its the mom said:

The biggest problem with ABT's Nutcracker is their lack of time in rehearsal.  They have a full month of lay-off after their fall rep program.  They did not come back to start rehearsing Nutcracker until November 29.  This basically gave them one week to rehearse the show prior to leaving for Orange County.  This is just not enough time to put this show up and to do it well.  Additionally, while many of them have performed their roles before and have that advantage, there are new people who must be inserted into the corps.  

That has been ABT's problem for as long  as i remember. Surely, some of their donors could sponsor longer rehearsal period.

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9 hours ago, mira said:

   If Sarah is now dancing the pas with Jeff Cirio (Isabella's partner) - how does he get enough rehearsal to do those tricky parts with two different girls?

 

If the famed torch lift with Boylston is any indication: poorly. I had forgotten how every mechanical aspect of it was exposed in the Sunday performance. Very poor. I hope Whiteside and Hammoudi do better--though the lift is highly dependent on the female partner really going for it so the momentum can help.

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50 minutes ago, ksk04 said:

 

If the famed torch lift with Boylston is any indication: poorly. I had forgotten how every mechanical aspect of it was exposed in the Sunday performance. Very poor. I hope Whiteside and Hammoudi do better--though the lift is highly dependent on the female partner really going for it so the momentum can help.

 

A year ago, I saw Boylston with Stearns and wrote on this site:

 

The matinee with Boylston and Stearns did have a major disaster on the torch-lift, but I'm not sure the audience recognized that one either. He first turned on the diagonal to get into position and, near the end, slipped. He didn't fall, but it was noticeable and I wonder if that spooked both of them. When she ran toward him, she really slowed down as she approached. He tried to heave her upward (she was no help at all), got her as far as his shoulder where she just sat, while he had both arms wrapped around her legs in front. Very clumsy and awkward. If they had planned to simplify the lift, it would have looked better (just a standard shoulder sit), but this seemed to to be a "save" to avoid catastrophe.

Edited by California

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Yes, California, that is exactly what Boylston did this time though she eventually got upright. She stopped, bent her leg and flexed her foot, and then put it into Cirio's hands while standing next to him. Not fluid. His other partnering just seemed ok, not particularly strong, so I think it's probably a combination of several factors (lack of confidence for both of them being up there), but the woman HAS to have momentum, or it's a mess.

Edited by ksk04
spelling

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I was also at last night's show with Murphy/Whitehead. I thought it was a far better show from corps to principals. I haven't seen Whitehead in a classical prince role before (I think he was in one of the Ratmansky ballets this summer, but I forget)--I thought he was a strong partner. Gillian looked like she enjoyed dancing with him and they generated a nice charm and chemistry. The torch lift was still funky; I'm beginning to think it's a coaching issue. Gillian just stopped in front of him and he hoisted her up; he has the strength to do so at least but it still doesn't read as fluid or particularly triumphant. I do just adore Gillian in this role; her solo is wonderful and she hits all the bends and sharp accents perfectly. The choreography fits her like a glove.

 

It was nice to see Sarah Lane as Chinese, but it's a bit of a blah role, imo. Cassandra Trenary was lovely as one of Nutcracker's sisters--she stuck out amongst the group (though I was watching for her closely). I thought one of the Russian guys stood out for his strong acting but I am unable to identify him among Agoudine, Duncan Lyle, or Nathan Vendt (I left my binocs in the car). Onto Abrera/Hammoudi on Sunday evening!

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I think the torch lift is flawed choreography if the point is to make a fluid movement.  The woman is running towards the man.  Her forward momentum won't help the lift.  She has to stop so she can be lifted upwards and change her facing.   There is no way to run into the lift to make it smooth, the point is the result.  I can't see a fluid way into it.  I think it is old style Soviet, which can have a great impact if the transition is fast and the lift works.  That's my opinion, I'm sure others will disagree.

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