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Leah

Nutcracker 2019

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Baily Jones had a very successful Marzipan debut this evening. She has sharp, precise feet with nice arches and there's a real spark to her dancing. She reminds me a little bit of Ashley Bouder. 

I was actually pleased that Unity Phelan subbed for Abi Stafford as SPF. She danced beautifully, balances were strong, and she was partnered well by Adrian Danchig-Waring. Only downside was that Megan LeCrone subbed for Phelan as Dewdrop... LeCrone can pull off all of the steps and has such nice long limbs but she just doesn't move well with this music. 

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8 hours ago, Helene said:

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.

Definitely agree with this. I have seen myself in that "general public" place as well. It has happened to me when visiting NYC and attending a NYCB performance.

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11 hours ago, Helene said:

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.

For those who aren't frequent ballet-goers it may feel roughly akin to plunking down a small fortune to see the latest sensation in a Broadway show and discovering that they're getting the understudy, which will feel like a let-down even if the understudy is better than good in the role.

I've had that experience with in-laws and out-of-town visitors more than once: it's hard for them to shake their disappointment at not getting "the real thing" even if the show is fabulous in every way. If you've assumed the Big Star IS the show, not getting the big star can feel like getting cheated.

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To add on - I do also think the rise of social media has contributed to this.  Agreed that a person who attends only once a year or rarely will want to see an established principal, but coupled with that is the presence that these dancers now have on instagram.  Sara Mearns and Ashley Bouder are two that come to mind quickly.  People feel close to them and have gotten to know them via that platform which can only increase their demand in person.  

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Paacoguin has been replaced in her performances next week - if she's injured that could more charitably explain why she wasn't cast as SPF this season despite rehearsing it.

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

Paacoguin has been replaced in her performances next week - if she's injured that could more charitably explain why she wasn't cast as SPF this season despite rehearsing it.

No injury.  She is on the schedule for Jan 05, for sure - super exciting to see her every time!  Those that had been rehearsing, still no debuts (Pascoguin, Habony for sure).  It would have been nice!  Maybe next year.

Edited by DaniGirl

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Was this posted on social media (official) or by wherever else she's performing?

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On 12/18/2019 at 10:04 PM, Rock said:

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.

Agree.  There are a lot of ladies in NYCB.  There are a lot of SFP. Even with limited studio time and ballet master time, it's just a matter of having plenty of SFP.  We know from social media that at least two NYCB dancers (Pascouguin, Habony) have been rehearsing SFP since Martins was the AD.  To be fair to those dancers, it's my opinion that they have been on hold since Martin's departure.  While it is very customary for a dancer to understudy/rehearse for many years before gracing the stage at classical ballet companies, Martins did not always do that - and I believe Stafford is no different - he is certainly driving Nadon before what I believe is her time.  I think it builds so many qualities by waiting.  But ADs all have their favorites and will find a spot regardless studio time.  Let's hope Stafford doesn't pass up those beautiful ladies that have been patiently working hard.

 
I see so much discussion on BA about promotions and I feel this is the same scenario.  There are a lot of soloists and principals at NYCB.  And there are only so many dollars.  It is my opinion that once there are some retirements, you might seem promotions.   The board has to agree, etc. and it has to make sense - not just because some fans love one dancer.  My vote, as soon as the money comes available, is Indiana Woodward - she is consistent and can do anything beautifully.   The only corps member I see doing featured roles consistently is Miriam Miller.  We had all hoped it would be Isabelle LaFreinerre but she has spent so much time injured.  Both dancers are technically amazing and lovely to watch in different ways.
 
Anyway!  We all had some hopes for more women debuts.  Maybe next year!

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This is a very interesting topic.  I cannot presume to know the inner workings of the company, either fiscally or artistically, but I can see both sides of the coin -- we want to see opportunities given to hard working, deserving corps members and see all that young energy on the stage, and experience the excitement of their debuts.  Yet, there is perhaps not enough work as it is for current principals and soloists, and no practical imperative (no rehearsal time, studio space, etc as others have mentioned) for putting forward new SPFs or Dewdrops. 

And then, of course, there's the issue of the marquee value of the principals as others have mentioned.  I do remember traveling from California for a  NYCB Nutcracker long ago with my then young dancing daughters and our SPF was Megan Fairchild -- then in the corps.  I think it might have even been her debut in the role.  I admit we were not excited about that.  (Sofiane Sylve was Dewdrop in that performance.)  But now, I would die to see Megan in either of those roles, and when I think back on it I guess I was just lucky to see the beginning of a dancer's amazing trajectory.

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I think one of the reasons for debuts in Nutcracker is that it sells as a holiday tradition/treat no matter what the casting. My neighbor took her visiting daughter and 3 grandkids a couple of days ago (tickets bought well in advance). All the kids talked about was the growing tree, the candy canes and the sleigh at the end. I think they were a bit bored by the pas de deux. No one in that family looks at any dancer's social media and they didn't check the program for who was who. It was an event that went with going to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. I truly believe that for many people that is the experience. They don't take it that seriously or give it much thought. Tomorrow the family I know is going to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City. 

In other words, I wouldn't worry about casting disappointments. I would guarantee that most ticket buyers are not ballet students following their favorite dancers on social media, or people going through the program saying darn, I got corps member as Sugar Plum, I'll never come back to another Nutcracker at NYCB.  

I don't know why there are so few debuts this year, but Jon Stafford is still an unknown in terms of his identity as a leader. Maybe he is supposed to be the likable, nice guy who is a place  holder. Don't know. Time will tell. 

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Yeah, most of the people I see at the Nutcracker are first-time/holiday only ballet goers that are simply in the thrall of being at the ballet, and consequently don't have very high expectations or standards. This is a good thing as it introduces new folks to the art form, and provides a probably more forgiving audience for a dancer making a debut in a big role. In SF, where I was before moving to NYC a few years ago, Tomasson would regularly use Nutcracker as a chance to feature newer dancers, and I think he's still doing so as well. And in Miami it seems that they even cast a teenage student as Dewdrop this year.

I recall someone (I don't remember if it was on this site) saying that Martins had had a casting format where he put principals and more established dancers in featured roles in the first few weeks of Nutcracker, and then released them to go do gigs in the last weeks while newer dancers then had a chance to debut. This seems like a good model.

I agree that we should wait to really judge Stafford, but honestly I have concerns. The handling of the sexting scandal was beyond clumsy, no matter what side you're on. Both his wife and sister, the two blandest female dancers in the company, are overcast. Roman Mejia and Indiana Woodward, to name just two, are both dancing a workload that is not reflected in their rank or pay. Maybe it's a budget thing, but either way it's very unfair for them. And the stark lack of promotions for more than a year must be so demoralizing for the dancers. Hopefully at least they have more clarity on the situation than we do.

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32 minutes ago, Leah said:

In SF, where I was before moving to NYC a few years ago, Tomasson would regularly use Nutcracker as a chance to feature newer dancers, and I think he's still doing so as well. And in Miami it seems that they even cast a teenage student as Dewdrop this year.

I recall someone (I don't remember if it was on this site) saying that Martins had had a casting format where he put principals and more established dancers in featured roles in the first few weeks of Nutcracker, and then released them to go do gigs in the last weeks while newer dancers then had a chance to debut. This seems like a good model.

Yes, that's basically how things continue to work at SFB. Opening night still tends to feature senior dancers, but as the Nutcracker season goes on, Tomasson likes to insert promising Corps dancers into the various lead roles to see if they sink or swim. (Also new soloists and principals are debuting in the lead roles). And sometimes there is a guest dancer. Also the partnering gets shuffled around to make things more interesting (or not). This year Misa Kuranaga is debuting as a SF principal and the SF audience is seeing her for the first time in these roles. She's fortunate though in being able to stick with Angelo Greco as her partner, since they've already been performing together, and seem to prefer to work together.

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Charlotte Nebres got a shout-out in the "Bad-Ass Women of the Week" segment of the "Burn It All Down" (sports) podcast a couple of weeks ago.

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If anyone sees today's 1:00 show, with Sara Adams, Harrison Ball, and Baily Jones' debut as Dewdrop, I would love to hear it. I've been thinking maybe I'd go, but decided at the last minute to see The Queen of Spades at the Met last night, so my budget is totally busted (worth it, though!). Reports please!

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1 minute ago, cobweb said:

If anyone sees today's 1:00 show, with Sara Adams, Harrison Ball, and Baily Jones' debut as Dewdrop, I would love to hear it. I've been thinking maybe I'd go, but decided at the last minute to see The Queen of Spades at the Met last night, so my budget is totally busted (worth it, though!). Reports please!

I loved the Queen of Spades.   I thought Lise Davidson was a revelation.

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34 minutes ago, abatt said:

I loved the Queen of Spades.   I thought Lise Davidson was a revelation.

100% agree. She's also doing Fidelio next year!

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Another casting change: megan Fairchild replaces Abi Stafford tonight for SPF.

Update: actually both Fairchild and Danchig-Waring are out and Reichlen and La Cour replace them. Woodward replaces Reichlen as Dewdrop.

Edited by canbelto

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For TDF members, the Saturday 12/28 matinee is on TDF. Wish I could go! 

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On 12/18/2019 at 12:13 PM, ECat said:

Does anyone know why there haven't been any reviews of NYCB Nutcracker yet this year?  Or did I miss it?

I've been wondering the same, ECat.  Earlier this month, I thought Kourlas was waiting to do a Macaulayesque compare and contrast piece of 3 different casts. Now I think there are just not going to be any reviews at all.  That is not acceptable!

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I will be back in NY for the final stretch of Nut, Jan 1 (we may go see Rosenkavalier that day, though) -- Jan 5. If anyone notices Nut on TDF for those days, I would greatly appreciate it if you could post or PM me. Thanks!!

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21 minutes ago, Marta said:

I've been wondering the same, ECat.  Earlier this month, I thought Kourlas was waiting to do a Macaulayesque compare and contrast piece of 3 different casts. Now I think there are just not going to be any reviews at all.  That is not acceptable!

Marta I found these two reviews:

https://www.danceviewtimes.com/2019/12/nutcracker-at-65.html

 

https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/BWW-Review-New-York-City-Ballets-THE-NUTCRACKER-20191223

 

 

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29 minutes ago, ECat said:

Thank you!  I had seen the DVT but not B'way world.  I am afraid that the Times  will just ignore NYCB's Nut.   Whoever the decider is about what gets reviewed should get blamed and not the dance writers.

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