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Nutcracker 2019


Leah

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I saw Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle in one of their Texas performances.  Tiler was stunning as always but did skip the move at the very end of the pas de deux in favor of something else.  (Sorry...I don’t know my ballet moves, but the one where she falls down in his arms.)  I’m guessing that means she isn’t 100% since she has always done it before as choreographed.

I have tickets in NYC on NYE but the cast list hasn’t been released yet for whatever reason.

 

 

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Casting is up for the final week. Same old, same old! Nothing new, no debuts, I wonder why... ?? Don't get me wrong, I love many of these dancers, but I find new casting brings Nutcracker more alive, for me anyway.

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2 hours ago, cobweb said:

Casting is up for the final week. Same old, same old! Nothing new, no debuts, I wonder why... ?? Don't get me wrong, I love many of these dancers, but I find new casting brings Nutcracker more alive, for me anyway.

Very disappointed with Stafford- this and the refusal to promote is very telling of his attitude towards dancers. 

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2 hours ago, cobweb said:

Casting is up for the final week. Same old, same old! Nothing new, no debuts, I wonder why... ?? Don't get me wrong, I love many of these dancers, but I find new casting brings Nutcracker more alive, for me anyway.

Agree - very disappointed 

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I was at Tiler Peck's return tonight. Quite frankly she isn't anywhere close to where she used to be. She danced slowly and carefully. Made no visible mistakes but for those used to her speed and dynamic dancing it was a bit of a surprise to see her so deliberate. Her torso is extremely stiff as are her legs -- arabesques didn't quite reach 90 degrees, and the backbends had no flexibility. I'm glad she's back but she isn't 100%. FWIW all three SPF and Cavaliers I saw this season restored the pause before the backbend promenade. 

Tyler Angle danced with absolutely no sense of presentation. In his pirouettes in the coda he stopped well before the musical cue to stop and stood center stage waiting awkwardly for Tiler to make her re-entrance. 

Emilie Gerrity also danced witth a very tense face, and not a lot of speed. She's usually such a lovely dancer that I wasn't used to her face looking so nervous. 

Highlights were Emily Kikta's Coffee (awesome! And she did those bent leg pirouettes in the finale) and Danny Ulbricht's Candy Cane.

Edited by canbelto
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Thanks for the report, canbelto, but the news is unfortunate. It's hard to picture Tyler Angle dancing without a sense of presentation, as his nobility always seems innate. And hoping for speedy recovery for Tiler and whatever ails Emilie, two of my favorite dancers. Not surprised about the awesome Emily Kikta!

If anyone attends more performances over the next few weeks, I'd love to hear reports. I'd especially love to hear about the one debut still to come, Baily Jones doing Dewdrop. I bet she nails it. If I get to another performance, I'm going to try to see Sara Adams as Sugarplum. 

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I'm afraid cobweb is right about the Nutcracker debuts. In 6 weeks of performances there are 18 debuts projected, and I'm counting Act I Dolls, Frau Stahlbaum, Flowers demi's, and Mother Ginger. Strangely low numbers. But then I did a tally of the three major roles. There are 19 Sugarplums, 15 Cavaliers, and 19 Dewdrops. The debuts are Furlan as Cavalier and Jones as the Dewdrop. As a result many people are performing far less than they're used to. I figure there are just so many casting opportunities, just so many studios, just so many ballet masters, and just so many rehearsal pianists.  

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I'm thinking about what it takes to prepare a Sugarplum. She needs many hours with her partner and ballet master. But then she needs time on stage with the angels to do the crossings, leading them around, etc. She needs to go thru the pantomime and spacing with the little Prince, she needs the entire cast there for spacing of her finale entrance and then the finale itself. It's a lot.

 

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Financing an operation? You mean the expense? I doubt that's a factor in that house. What I'm saying is there's not enough space, studios, not enough staff, etc. It's a big deal debuts. And then you have to make hard decisions about who's NOT going to dance that performance. The reason I did the tally was to try to get an idea of what actually goes on. It's massive - all those casts - and one has to remember it takes just as much time to prepare a dancer for one performance as for a number of them.

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I'll bow to canbelto's superior ability of comparison, as I know she sees far more ballet than I do, but to my eyes Tiler was radiant and danced flawlessly as SPF. Her arabesques looked fine to me. Her trademark musicality and fluidity were leaps and bounds above the other dancers featured tonight. It may be just that a not-in-topmost-form Tiler Peck is still a remarkable ballerina.

Tyler's partnering was smooth, solid and attentive, lifts beautifully timed, and I thought him princely. His variation was well done - although his jumps weren't the highest, I don't think I have ever thought of him as an especially noteworthy jumper - and to me they were both wonderful.

Gerrity did a good job as Dewdrop, getting those long legs where they needed to be in time. Hoxha was impressive as Tea, Kikta as mentioned earlier was a fine and sultry coffee. Ulbricht of course tossed off his candy cane tricks with total ease. Charlotte Nebres and Tanner Quirk were terrific as the Marie and the Little Prince - fresh and natural on stage, with great mime. The only dancer I thought could improve on their work (and she did nail the steps) was MacKinnon's Marzipan. I know the steps are tricky and the music was fast, and she did do it all successfully, but there wasn't the crispness and control yet that she might grow into.

It's been years since I saw NYCB Nutcracker and it seems brighter-colored than I remembered. I liked that in the scenery and in the Flower costumes. But I thought the bright blue tinsel garlands on the Christmas tree seemed anachronistic- surely no one was using those until maybe the 1960s - and the rainbow of lurid legs and feet in Spanish was actually distracting. Overall, a splendidly performed Nutcracker tonight.

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For those of you who remember Sarah Ricard's and Clara Ruf Maldonado's dancing from NYCB, in Seattle tonight, Ricard Orza danced a luminous Coffee and Maldonado made a brilliant debut as Sugar Plum Fairy.  PNB doesn't have as many Nutcracker performances, and there are generally only a handful debuts in the major roles, so I was lucky to be able to see Maldonado's.

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I would have really liked to see dancers such as Emma Von Enck, Rachel Hutsell, or Alston McGill as Dewdrop or SPF. I don’t see why just Bailey Jones is a new Dewdrop. I find her performance so forced and I don’t like the faces she makes. Glad Tiler has returned. I wish I had made that performance. Also, happy to hear good reports of Emily Kikta. I’ve always really liked her. She seems very confident in the past year.

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25 minutes ago, Brook703 said:

I would have really liked to see dancers such as Emma Von Enck, Rachel Hutsell, or Alston McGill as Dewdrop or SPF.

Agree - all great choices! There's some tough competition among the pint-sized ladies right now. Any of these three would look great with Roman Mejia, maybe especially Von Enck. Wouldn't that be a fun Sugarplum-Cavalier pairing. 

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52 minutes ago, cobweb said:

Agree - all great choices! There's some tough competition among the pint-sized ladies right now. Any of these three would look great with Roman Mejia, maybe especially Von Enck. Wouldn't that be a fun Sugarplum-Cavalier pairing. 

Agree with you on this! I like your description “pint-sized ladies.” Hopefully, we get a Roman/pint-sized lady pairing for winter season.

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 One thought I might throw into the "reasons why there have been so few debuts" bucket-- once a dancer is given a shot at a role, there is an expectation that they'll be able to dance it again when the ballet returns to the rep. I would think there would be balance that the artistic staff needs to keep in mind between newer dancers and the principals that theatregoers actively try and buy tickets to see (Mearns, Korowski, Peck, etc.). If they allow too many debuts, they won't be able to keep that balance in future seasons. That's not great for company morale either.

 

One more note on Baily Jones-- I saw her in the 3rd Movement of Symphony in C at the Kennedy Center earlier thisyear and thought she was the best part of the ballet. Her lightweight cheerfulness was a joy.

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One aspect of this discussion is a little confusing to me. I had thought the point of the questions/complaints about not having more debuts in Nutcracker this season was that the company had had a policy of more Nutcracker debuts in the past.  Several people have given excellent explanations as to why having a lot of featured role Nutcracker debuts (especially for the leads) is tough or unrealistic for the company--but wouldn't that always have been the case (last year, the year before etc.)?  Is this season not indeed different from seasons past? or are we left to infer that Stafford is taking a different approach to casting Nutcracker than Martins did? (I don't follow NYCB Nutcracker casting closely enough year after year to know independently if this season really does have fewer debuts and just depend on reports here.)

Reasonable people can disagree as to which approach is best, but if it is a change, then that seems  worth noticing, though I suppose the experience of just one season may be too soon to know...These things sometimes just follow ebbs and flows...

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The point I was trying to make, Drew, is that the company already has so many dancers for those Principal roles that it's difficult for opportunities to be given as it is - without adding even more.

 

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Obviously we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.  I can see the point earlier that if a debut happens there is expectation that the person would perform again the following year.  Do we know how often that actually has happened? It’s possible that it caused strife in the background when dancers were not recast the following year.  Dancers are notoriously hard on themselves for a whole host of reasons.  I do think part of it is also stafford/whelan not wanting to do everything Martins did and doesn’t necessarily reflect on his approach to the dancers.  

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I have the same question as @Drew:  is this a change in AD behavior?   Do we have enough data to know based on one or two Nutcracker seasons?  Are there other variables, like fewer injuries, less outside guesting, more dancers planning to retire major roles, a young dancer injured because of the 98 performances/week doing Flowers, Snowflakes, and Parent, but still taking one for the team and going on valiantly, etc.?

I know that for many of us, we live for those debuts, not to mention want greater opportunities for dancers we think deserve them.  The general public, not so much: every. single. time. I go to the ballet, I see people go through the programs and cross-reference the cast list to the dancer ranks. And then comment.  ("Oh, the Sugar Plum Fairy is only a Soloist." "They're giving us the Corps guy as Cavalier." "Why isn't Clara in the roster?")  Maybe by the time they are happily appreciating the dancing, they forget that initial let-down, but unless someone is in town and just wants to see the show, the public in the middle may care about rank or dancers they've read about in the NYT or Dance Magazine, and a company could take this into consideration while casting.

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