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nanushka

Cleveland Ballet's Nutcracker

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My very first experience with ballet came when my older sister took me to see Nutcracker at Cleveland Ballet, near where I grew up. I was instantly hooked.

Cleveland Ballet, headed by former ABT dancer Dennis Nahat, later became Cleveland San Jose Ballet then moved exclusively to San Jose in 2000. A new company, also called Cleveland Ballet, opened in 2014. (More info is available here.)

I was delighted to recently find the video below, which — though amusingly dated — contains a good deal of footage of Dennis Nahat's Nutcracker production. One of the four ballerinas profiled is Karen Gabay, the dancer I originally saw as "Maria" (though this would have been a few years later — in maybe 1985).

I'm curious if anyone else has memories of Cleveland Ballet, of their Nutcracker, of their Swan Lake or Coppélia (which I also subsequently saw), or of anything else about the company. In any case, I thought others who may have seen this production years ago might also enjoy the memories.

 

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Oh boy, this brings back memories. Nanushka, sounds like we both grew up close to each other - me, closer to Akron. I knew Cleveland Ballet well (Ohio Ballet even better). I remember Karen Gabay and her husband, Raymond Rodriguez. They were stars. I never saw their Nutcracker (I'll have to watch your video later), but I did see their Swan Lake with Cynthia Gregory. Me and a bunch of my fellow ballet students took a road trip to see it and that was our first experience seeing a full-length and a true prima ballerina live. I was blown away. I know I saw them in other productions (mixed rep, perhaps, but I think Romeo and Juliet too w/ Gabay). There's another Cleveland dancer I'm trying to remember. After she retired, she came to NYC and taught ballet at Steps for several years. She had a "Gillian Murphy" quality about her but her name escapes me.

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35 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

Oh boy, this brings back memories. Nanushka, sounds like we both grew up close to each other - me, closer to Akron. I knew Cleveland Ballet well (Ohio Ballet even better). I remember Karen Gabay and her husband, Raymond Rodriguez. They were stars. I never saw their Nutcracker (I'll have to watch your video later), but I did see their Swan Lake with Cynthia Gregory. Me and a bunch of my fellow ballet students took a road trip to see it and that was our first experience seeing a full-length and a true prima ballerina live. I was blown away. I know I saw them in other productions (mixed rep, perhaps, but I think Romeo and Juliet too w/ Gabay). There's another Cleveland dancer I'm trying to remember. After she retired, she came to NYC and taught ballet at Steps for several years. She had a "Gillian Murphy" quality about her but her name escapes me.

Yes, Raymond Rodriguez is Gabay's partner in the video, and I'm pretty sure I saw them together in this. The choreography shown looks quite decent, for the most part, and there's some nice dancing by all the leads.

I never got to see Cynthia Gregory dance with the company, though I distinctly remember seeing her photo among the principal dancers in their season souvenir book (which I wish I still had). I'd never heard of her at the time, but just from her picture and brief bio I could tell she was a star. (Her headshot, if I recall, was rather striking and alluring, with bare shoulders and a lovely long neck.) I remember wishing desperately that she'd be the Odette/Odile on the date I went, but she wasn't, and I have no memory of who was.

Edited by nanushka

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