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Nutcracker 2017


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Perhaps the last Nutcracker related posting - Lizzy Powell posted this to Instagram (may be a Madison Keesler video though):

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdWZmJAlWEG/?taken-by=lizzypowell222

The SFB Nutcracker production is known for, among other things, the copious amount of snow that falls during the Snowflake ( and Snow King and Queen) dance. This video gives an indication of just how crazy the snow flurries get - snow dump would be more appropriate. (Towards the end of the Nutcracker run things are known to get more loose, and 'playful', since everyone at SFB and the WMOH are stuck in SF for the holiday anyway.) This might be Dores André and Luke Ingham as the Snow royalty. But it's hard to tell in the midst of a blizzard.

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Omigod, that is so cute, the Instagram video. Thanks for posting the link, Pherank.

I saw the 12/27 matinee performance with Ana Sophia Scheller and Angelo Greco as the Grand Pas couple, and though they were AMAZING together. Greco was an amazing Nut Prince - I am thrilled to see how his dancing has refined - or maybe it's simply a different role from the ones I saw him in last year, which tended to be less regal and more boyish/humorous. A really great cast across the board, although in a perfect world I would have liked to have seen a different set of dancers for Queen and King of Snow, as Chung/Luiz were opening night and this one both. So relieved to see Mathilde Froustey looking beautiful and vivid and with that gorgeous upper body presentation. Just love the way she halts a pose for a millisecond (in music it's called "rubato" - is there a ballet equivalent?) before letting it melt into the next movement. So lovely. I was so worried about any pre-performance announcements of cast changes, but, amazingly, there were none. 

I might even go so far as to argue that this performance was better than opening night. Or, certainly, I'll say that there were no signs of dancer (and musician) fatigue for being the 27th (?) performance of a 30 (?) performance run. And I got a kick out of seeing some brand new faces: apprentice Anatalia Hordov in French and SF Ballet School student (I assume) Adrian Zeisel dance in Spanish. Kudos to them both!

Edited by Terez
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5 hours ago, Terez said:

Omigod, that is so cute, the Instagram video. Thanks for posting the link, Pherank.

I saw the 12/27 matinee performance with Ana Sophia Scheller and Angelo Greco as the Grand Pas couple, and though they were AMAZING together. Greco was an amazing Nut Prince - I am thrilled to see how his dancing has refined - or maybe it's simply a different role from the ones I saw him in last year, which tended to be less regal and more boyish/humorous. A really great cast across the board, although in a perfect world I would have liked to have seen a different set of dancers for Queen and King of Snow, as Chung/Luiz were opening night and this one both. So relieved to see Mathilde Froustey looking beautiful and vivid and with that gorgeous upper body presentation. Just love the way she halts a pose for a millisecond (in music it's called "rubato" - is there a ballet equivalent?) before letting it melt into the next movement. So lovely. I was so worried about any pre-performance announcements of cast changes, but, amazingly, there were none. 

I might even go so far as to argue that this performance was better than opening night. Or, certainly, I'll say that there were no signs of dancer (and musician) fatigue for being the 27th (?) performance of a 30 (?) performance run. And I got a kick out of seeing some brand new faces: apprentice Anatalia Hordov in French and SF Ballet School student (I assume) Adrian Zeisel dance in Spanish. Kudos to them both!

Thanks for that report! Did you post an online review, Terez? What's the URL?

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5 hours ago, pherank said:

Thanks for that report! Did you post an online review, Terez? What's the URL?

I did - here's the Bachtrack link for the review of opening night -  https://bachtrack.com/review-nutcracker-san-francisco-ballet-war-memorial-opera-house-san-francisco-december-2017 (they need to shorten their URLs!) And here's a link to a shorter summary of the Wed 12/27 matinee performance at The Classical Girl - http://wp.me/p3k7ov-SN.

Did anyone else get to see Angelo and Ana Sophia dance the Grand Pas? Or any of the other newer dancers test-driving the leads? I sure do enjoy watching those.

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27 minutes ago, Terez said:

I did - here's the Bachtrack link for the review of opening night -  https://bachtrack.com/review-nutcracker-san-francisco-ballet-war-memorial-opera-house-san-francisco-december-2017 (they need to shorten their URLs!) And here's a link to a shorter summary of the Wed 12/27 matinee performance at The Classical Girl - http://wp.me/p3k7ov-SN.

Did anyone else get to see Angelo and Ana Sophia dance the Grand Pas? Or any of the other newer dancers test-driving the leads? I sure do enjoy watching those.

Thanks so much for the links, Terez. I've been stuck in the southland. I spent most of December with the flu. The flu that never really ends. Until one day you just notice it's gone.  ;)

I do wish I could have seen Greco and "La Scheller", but hopefully there will be many opportunities this 2018 season. I would also have liked to have seen Sheehan as the dancing doll.

Edited by pherank
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10 hours ago, pherank said:

Thanks so much for the links, Terez. I've been stuck in the southland. I spent most of December with the flu. The flu that never really ends. Until one day you just notice it's gone.  ;)

I do wish I could have seen Greco and "La Scheller", but hopefully there will be many opportunities this 2018 season. I would also have liked to have seen Sheehan as the dancing doll.

Ugh, lousy way to spend the holidays! Wishing you wellness - you've got three weeks until the repertory season starts. ; )

 

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I went to five Nutcrackers after Christmas and the company was looking enthusiastic as a whole with excellent performances.  Not to discredit any dancer, I nevertheless want to single out a few:

Mingxuan Wang as the Snow Cavalier and then in Chinese - what an exceptional dancer he is, on the way, hopefully not too slowly, to becoming a first-rate danseur noble. I saw him about three years ago in the Peasant pas quatre in the SFB Giselle, and have been waiting to see him in more solo roles.   

Mathilde Froustey in Snow and the Grand pas de deux is dancing better than ever with a less forced radiance and a new serenity that embraces the audience.  She looked so happy to be back on stage. I hope to see her Aurora in a few weeks. 

Ulrik Birkkjaer in the Grand pas de deux - I bought an extra ticket so I could see him.  He is a former principal with the Royal Danish Ballet and joined SFB this season.  What struck me as unique about him was his mime in the first part of Act II, which was revelatory in its naturalness and projection (years of early training in Denmark in mime).  I would love to see him as Albrecht. 

Dores Andre as the Sugar Plum Fairy (dances Waltz of the Flowers) - I seldom see her in a tutu and  was pleased that she looked beautiful and danced with a ballerina's refinement and musicality.  She also succeeded in giving meaning to the opening scene of Act II, which we seldom see. 

Friday night's performance had an utterly exquisite Yuan Yuan Tan with Carlo di Lanno in Snow and a superb Sofiane Sylve with Tiit Helimets in the Grand pas de deux.

Lonnie Weeks danced a brilliant Russian, as did Wei Wang in a later performance - but there are no surprises there.  Esteban Hernandez also gave his own brilliant all in everything he danced, both in technique and performance values.  Both Hernandez and Wei Wang finish their multiple pirouettes up on demi-pointe. 

Koto Ishihara danced an effortlessly lovely Grand pas de deux, with beautiful line and port de bras.  She was scheduled to dance it with Hansuke Yamamoto, but he was replaced in the pas de deux due to injury and so Vitor Luiz stepped in at the last moment and all went well.  What I also appreciated about Koto is that her expression changes as she dances and we do not have to look at a monotone smile. 

Ami Yuki was stunningly beautiful and expressive in Arabian. 

New corps member Wona Park as the Sugar Plum Fairy danced with pristine classical technique and looked confident on stage.  

Sean Bennett reminds me of George Chakiris (huge compliment). 

It was wonderful to see newly promoted soloist Steven Morse dancing with increased presence. 

And it was a pleasure to see Madison Keesler again, looking radiantly happy to be dancing for us.  

On to The Sleeping Beauty at the end of the month . . . 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, Josette said:

Mathilde Froustey in Snow and the Grand pas de deux is dancing better than ever with a less forced radiance and a new serenity that embraces the audience.  She looked so happy to be back on stage. I hope to see her Aurora in a few weeks.

Here's MF's remark on this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc3N_S1nNqU/?taken-by=lapetitefrench_

I agree with many of your comments. It hadn't really occurred to me that I haven't seen Andre in a tutu much, but that's true. It does happen though.  ;)

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That's how Mathilde Froustey looked  - meaning the prancing deer on the beach in her Instagram -  which, curiously, was a clip that I posted on my facebook page a short while ago and which makes the FB rounds from time to time.   She danced with an effortless technical command and was obviously enjoying performing again, which is always a joy to watch.   In the past I felt she would occasionally get stuck in a balance and relish it a bit too much and then get off the music - none of which happened last week. 

A bit more on Dores Andre: the first time I ever noticed her was  before she was promoted to soloist and it was as a demi-soloist in the second movement of Symphony in C, when she bourree-ed out from upstage right, looking gorgeous in the tutu with ballerina-like positioning of her head, neck, and upper back.  I don't think I have seen her in a tutu since then until last week.  I was happily impressed with the precision and lightness in her pointe work as the Sugar Plum Fairy as well as her musical phrasing, which I have seen several dancers fail to make effective in that role and Tomasson's choreography. 

 I am looking forward to the five performances of The Sleeping Beauty I am attending in a few weeks because classical ballet is of a different standard from the contemporary choreography that the company performs.      

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1 hour ago, Josette said:

That's how Mathilde Froustey looked  - meaning the prancing deer on the beach in her Instagram -  which, curiously, was a clip that I posted on my facebook page a short while ago and which makes the FB rounds from time to time.   She danced with an effortless technical command and was obviously enjoying performing again, which is always a joy to watch.   In the past I felt she would occasionally get stuck in a balance and relish it a bit too much and then get off the music - none of which happened last week. 

A bit more on Dores Andre: the first time I ever noticed her was  before she was promoted to soloist and it was as a demi-soloist in the second movement of Symphony in C, when she bourree-ed out from upstage right, looking gorgeous in the tutu with ballerina-like positioning of her head, neck, and upper back.  I don't think I have seen her in a tutu since then until last week.  I was happily impressed with the precision and lightness in her pointe work as the Sugar Plum Fairy as well as her musical phrasing, which I have seen several dancers fail to make effective in that role and Tomasson's choreography. 

 I am looking forward to the five performances of The Sleeping Beauty I am attending in a few weeks because classical ballet is of a different standard from the contemporary choreography that the company performs.      

"In the past I felt she would occasionally get stuck in a balance and relish it a bit too much" - I believe that would be the "POB" in Mathilde. ;)
But she's fully musical when left to her own devices (and she's feeling comfortable with herself). She just happens to be one of those dancers who cannot easily hide how she is feeling physically and emotionally (with both good and bad results). Some dancers can just leave it all behind when they step on the stage, and they become a different version of themselves. I imagine that's useful if you're looking for consistency.

The first time I really noticed Dores was in Scotch Symphony - but even then she was wearing a kilt, not a tutu. I realized for the first time what a little dynamo she was. But she keeps growing and keeps surprising.

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Yes, I remember Dores in Scotch Symphony as well!  I've been going to SFB consistently for ten years now and it has been so thrilling to watch the growth of dancers such as Dores, Sasha de Sola, and Frances Chung.  

So many POB dancers have the delightful ability to step onto pointe and hover in space.  They are so sure-footed in their pointe and bas de jambe technique. Dorothee Gilbert in Giselle was amazing.   

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17 minutes ago, Josette said:

Yes, I remember Dores in Scotch Symphony as well!  I've been going to SFB consistently for ten years now and it has been so thrilling to watch the growth of dancers such as Dores, Sasha de Sola, and Frances Chung.  

So many POB dancers have the delightful ability to step onto pointe and hover in space.  They are so sure-footed in their pointe and bas de jambe technique. Dorothee Gilbert in Giselle was amazing.   

Tomasson has done a good job choosing dancers that have the ability to GROW throughout their career. There really haven't been that many dancers that I can think of who got promoted and then fell totally flat. Helgi seems to know when a dancer is solid enough and dependable enough to be a soloist, but seems to lack a certain magnetism that we all like to see in a principal.

I'm definitely not a POB hater, and don't mind their versions of Balanchine/Robbins ballets, even if they're not my absolute favorite interpretations. SFB has always had (at least) a couple of French-trained dancers in their principal/soloist ranks and I'm glad that's part of the DNA of the company.

Edited by pherank
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