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Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker 2017

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I happened to read this review of Atlanta Ballet's final performances of the McFall Nutcracker -

Review: The final stand of “Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker” fails to cast its magical spell

http://artsatl.com/review-atlanta-ballets-final-mcfall-nutcracker-fails-cast-usual-magical-spell/

"True to Nedvigin’s vision (shaped by his experience as a student at the Bolshoi Ballet school and principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet), every dancer has a beautiful body and excellent training. But they come from different backgrounds with training in different schools and styles, and with different ideas of what to go for as performers on stage. In general, their commonality appears to be medals and other accolades won in ballet competitions — McFall shied away from such competitions because he believed they missed the point, and they could ruin talent."

>> It's pretty much impossible to create a wholly unified company - with so many dancers brand new to the company - in such a short period of time. The Nutcracker performance period is used by many North American companies to sort out the kinks, as it were, and get the company running on all cylinders after a long vacation period. I'm not at all surprised that things appear rough here at the beginning. I just hope they can find their groove before too long.

"These standouts weren’t enough for the production to cast the spell that Atlanta audiences have come to expect. Ballet officials say a heavy fall rehearsal schedule, and the need to coordinate schedules of several in-demand choreographers, left the company only about three weeks to prepare the production. Since August, company dancers have learned eight ballets and have already begun work on choreographers Yuri Possokhov’s new Nutcracker that debuts in 2018."

>> Sounds like they're on the SFB schedule if they're learning 8 ballets in 3 or so months. That is grueling, but it is also what the big companies sometimes have to deal with. Is Atlanta Ballet biting off more than they can chew? It may seem that way in the first year under Nedvigin given all the extra work that is going to have to be done to get the dancers used to one another and working as a unified group.

"Nedvigin spent the ballet’s first weekend in Moscow to attend a world premiere performance there, rather than being present in Atlanta for the opening."

>> Yeah, that's unfortunate. And I can guess that he was showing support for Yuri Possokhov at the premiere of Nureyev in Moscow, which has sparked all manner of controversy in Russia (whether or not it really deserves that much attention). The timing wasn't good, but scheduling conflicts are always going to be an issue. Don't be surprised if Nedvigin isn't also keeping an eye out for talent that might be interested in coming to the US...

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Local news has been featuring the farewell to Mcfall’s production, with the company both honoring its final season and noting a new production is underway.

I decided to take a pass on Nutcracker this year...but despite the article’s criticisms, if Nedvigin has upped the level of technical accomplishment in the company in the way it describes, then that seems something that could be a good basis for bigger and better things in the future. I do plan on seeing Don Quixote in February....

Edited by Drew

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31 minutes ago, Drew said:

Local news has been featuring the farewell to Mcfall’s production, with the company both honoring its final season and noting a new production is underway.

I decided to take a pass on Nutcracker this year...but despite the article’s criticisms, if Nedvigin has upped the level of technical accomplishment in the company in the way it describes, then that seems something that could be a good basis for bigger and better things in the future. I do plan on seeing Don Quixote in February....

I just took a look at the company schedule for the dates - except for the overlap of Don Quixote and Beauty and the Beast (performed by Atlanta Ballet II) there's a gap of almost a month between the other programs. That will give the dancers and coaches extra time to prepare for roles, so that is hopeful. When Nedvigin was at SFB, the programs often overlapped. For example, the last few performances of Program 1 would overlap with the first few performances of Program 2. That was great for me when I moved and started flying back to SF to see the company - I could see two programs together very easily. But I'm sure it was very hard on the dancers. This next season at SFB has been scheduled with more gaps between programs.

We'll hope for the best.

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The company just posted this on Facebook--I can't help but wonder if it isn't intended as something of an indirect riposte to the article's knock on Nedvigin for attending the Nureyev premier in Moscow rather than being in Atlanta for the Nutcracker opening:

 

Edited by Drew

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

The company just posted this on Facebook--I can't help but wonder if it isn't intended as something of an indirect riposte to the article's knock on Nedvigin for attending the Nureyev premier in Moscow rather than being in Atlanta for the Nutcracker opening:

 

That's possible. I got the impression that the writer, Cynthia Bond Perry, was just expressing her support for McFall and the work he did for the company, as well as challenging Nedvigin to be as good or better - that seems fair to me. I just know it's going to take a while to get the company to the level that Nedvigin is looking for. And he's brand new to the A.D. game so he has plenty to learn too.

The Facebook posting made me think that the dancers are lucky to work with an A.D. who is still dancing as well as ever. He can actually demonstrate everything fully, and not just motion with this hands.  ;)

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I went to the Atlanta ballet Nutcracker performance on Thursday night. I've seen the company a few times at Cobb, but I'd actually never seen the McFall Nutcracker before. I was definitely excited to get to see this production at the Fox and all the new dancers! I though the corps looked great in Snow and Flowers, and also the children did a wonderful job. I was particularly impressed with the excellent partnering during the Arabian Dance (Erica Alvarado and Sergio Masero), Monika Haczkiewicz's crisp pointework and beautiful port de bras as the Shepherdess and Keith Reeves's huge jumps during the Spanish dance. I did think the partnering in both Snow Pas and Sugarplum Pas looked a little strained/under-rehearsed at times, particularly a few lifts in the Snow Pas, but honestly I think this is to be expected given the limited rehearsal time, new company members, and losing many of the company's more experienced male dancers.  Overall I think the direction Nedvigin is taking the company (from a lot of contemporary work to a mix of classical/neoclassical/contemporary) is a good one. While I'll watch almost anything, I've found that story ballets and Balanchine/Robbins rep are an easier sell for ballet novices (namely my husband who loved Firebird and Allegro Brillante last year) and I think will broaden the audience of Atlanta Ballet. 

Edited by KWalsh
typo

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2 hours ago, KWalsh said:

I went to the Atlanta ballet Nutcracker performance on Thursday night. I've seen the company a few times at Cobb, but I'd actually never seen the McFall Nutcracker before. I was definitely excited to get to see this production at the Fox and all the new dancers! I though the corps looked great in Snow and Flowers, and also the children did a wonderful job. I was particularly impressed with the excellent partnering during the Arabian Dance (Erica Alvarado and Sergio Masero), Monika Haczkiewicz's crisp pointework and beautiful port de bras as the Shepherdess and Keith Reeves's huge jumps during the Spanish dance. I did think the partnering in both Snow Pas and Sugarplum Pas looked a little strained/under-rehearsed at times, particularly a few lifts in the Snow Pas, but honestly I think this is to be expected given the limited rehearsal time, new company members, and losing many of the company's more experienced male dancers.  Overall I think the direction Nedvigin is taking the company (from a lot of contemporary work to a mix of classical/neoclassical/contemporary) is a good one. While I'll watch almost anything, I've found that story ballets and Balanchine/Robbins rep are an easier sell for ballet novices (namely my husband who loved Firebird and Allegro Brillante last year) and I think will broaden the audience of Atlanta Ballet. 

Great report. For better or worse, Nedvigin may be using The Nutcracker performances to work on partnering skills/issues. Learning the choreography in rehearsals is all well and good, but performing the dances and partnering well - in front of a large audience - is another level to attain.
I look forward to your future reports, KWalsh.

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2 hours ago, KWalsh said:

I went to the Atlanta ballet Nutcracker performance on Thursday night. I've seen the company a few times at Cobb, but I'd actually never seen the McFall Nutcracker before. I was definitely excited to get to see this production at the Fox and all the new dancers! I though the corps looked great in Snow and Flowers, and also the children did a wonderful job. I was particularly impressed with the excellent partnering during the Arabian Dance (Erica Alvarado and Sergio Masero), Monika Haczkiewicz's crisp pointework and beautiful port de bras as the Shepherdess and Keith Reeves's huge jumps during the Spanish dance. I did think the partnering in both Snow Pas and Sugarplum Pas looked a little strained/under-rehearsed at times, particularly a few lifts in the Snow Pas, but honestly I think this is to be expected given the limited rehearsal time, new company members, and losing many of the company's more experienced male dancers.  Overall I think the direction Nedvigin is taking the company (from a lot of contemporary work to a mix of classical/neoclassical/contemporary) is a good one. While I'll watch almost anything, I've found that story ballets and Balanchine/Robbins rep are an easier sell for ballet novices (namely my husband who loved Firebird and Allegro Brillante last year) and I think will broaden the audience of Atlanta Ballet. 

Thank you for this report!  I am so happy to hear from someone attending Atlanta Ballet performances this year. I also am looking forward to the upcoming season, and though I am open to a range of choreography could not be happier about the company dancing Balanchine again, and generally giving a bit more attention to ballet-based works whether old or new. (Like your husband, Mr. Drew quite enjoyed Allegro Brillante last year. He also expressed pleasure at the Scarlett Vespertine, which I hadn’t been sure he would like.)

 

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Maria Kochetkova of SFB posted this on Instagram:

BalletRusse: Meanwhile in San Francisco with Yuri. It’s never too early to start getting ready for Christmas #yuriposskohov @gnedvigin @atlantaballet #poom
 

What I get from this video:

  1. Possokhov is trying to impress Nedvigin with his ideas for the Atlanta Ballet Nutcracker.
  2. Kochetkova likes to poke fun at Possokhov.
  3. Yuri Possokhov looks to have been eating too many Christmas dinners. ;)
  4. Nedvigin can't help wondering how much this is going to cost.

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The video is kind of opaque to me. But is the implication Kochetkova is coming to Atlanta as a guest artist? Or just that she is helping Possokhov try out ideas? If the former, then presumably she wasn't supposed to let it slip casually on Instagram, so I'll assume the latter.

The Atlanta Ballet is already publicizing and indeed selling this new Nutcracker production to donors, however modest (I'm a very modest donor) -- and have plans for a gala party of some kind at the Fox Theater.

 

Edited by Drew

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

The video is kind of opaque to me. But is the implication Kochetkova is coming to Atlanta as a guest artist? Or just that she is helping Possokhov try out ideas? If the former, then presumably she wasn't supposed to let it slip casually on Instagram, so I'll assume the latter.

The Atlanta Ballet is already publicizing and indeed selling this new Nutcracker production to donors, however modest (I'm a very modest donor) -- and have plans for a gala party of some kind at the Fox Theater.

Probably too early to talk about guest artists, but who knows? I think Masha is just "helping" at this point.  ;)  Maybe this will be your one chance to see Yuan Yuan Tan before her retirement - she could be the Snow Queen as a guest.
Choreographers always need dancers to work out ideas and demonstrate, and Possokhov has long worked with certain SFB dancers in creating his new works (so I don't think it's a slight to the Atlanta Ballet dancers). 
I can only imagine how much work there will be to create a new Nutcracker...

Edited by pherank

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