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Ballet Collective - Nutcracker at Wethersfield


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I'm not sure where this topic should go - this is not a NYCB production, but the dancers are all apparently NYCB, and probably most of the people who follow NYCB on this forum would be interested. Should "Ballet Collective" be listed as a separate company with its own forum?

I have been getting publicity emails about this, and now I gather there's a positive review in the New York Times. I'm very intrigued by the production. If anyone has attended, please report back in detail!

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So I just watched the livestream (available for just a few more hours this evening). Mixed feelings. It was great to see the familiar faces of the dancers again, but I certainly am eager to see ballet in an actual theatre again. This was a huge undertaking, with Schumacher providing an hour of new choreography. I liked this choreography better than Schumacher's more experimental work, and would look forward to seeing more of it. In terms of the dancing, it was quite limited by the setting - the party scene takes place in the house, the mouse battle and waltz of the snowflakes outdoors (were those ladies dancing in the snow? couldn't tell if it was actual snow/ice, it couldn't possibly be, right?), then the divertissements inside a big tent with a stage. Also, with the stage being viewable from all sides, it was hard to get a full view of the divertissements. I was sorry this wasn't the cast with Ashley Laracey as Sugar Plum Fairy, as she is a favorite of mine and I haven't seen her dance she went on maternity leave from NYCB. However, Sara Mearns looked good, if dancing smaller than usual. Tyler Angle has gone bald. Otherwise, it was hard to really assess the dancing, but I did notice that Cainan Weber was a bolt of energy as Candy Cane, and Kristen Segin brightens up everything with her beautiful face and smile. The drama of the battle scene, and the majestic music after the Nutcracker Prince's triumph, really made me miss the NYCB production, with the bed swirling around on the stage and the Nutcracker Prince nobly offering his hand to Clara. Next year. 

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I also watched this yesterday and skipped past most of the the non-dancing parts. I'm sure this concept works better as an in-person experience than a film, but there were parts I really enjoyed. I thought Schumacher's choreography was strongest in the Marzipan scene and the grand pas de deux. Candy Cane and Hot Chocolate were close to the Balanchine version. Waltz of the flowers was a bit repetitive, but Mira Nadon as Dewdrop was fabulous. Overall a very commendable effort from everyone given the circumstances. But yes, the underwhelming drama and the limits of the setting really emphasized what we're missing with theaters closed. 

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They have added 24 hours of streaming so Wethersfield Nutcracker is still available! Until Sunday midnight Eastern Time, I believe. It's well worth watching if you haven't already, and very inventive, imo. The setting is a large house and grounds in Wethersfield (CT or NY) one might presume. I found the use of the different rooms and grounds quite compelling. You never knew exactly where you were going to be led next, which room, which snowy field. The  theatricality of it and the music are amazing before you even get to the dancing.

Claire Von Enck dances the Doll in the First Act.  Sara Mearns is the Sugar Plum with Tyler Angle as Cavalier. The dancing and choreography is just beautiful. I found myself bursting into tears (actual sobs) when they reveal the stage for the divertissements. Troy Schumacher captures the majesty of Tschaikovsky's music in this film, revealing the different set pieces and elements slowly and carefully. Maybe I was crying for all that has been lost during the pandemic, but it was such a lift to see those dancers in full costume and pointe shoes after all this time, and to be made to wait a bit for their dancing artistry. I found the whole thing to be imaginative and well produced. Kudos all around.

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Well I thought it was actually ... I don't want to be mean, but ... I thought it was bad. Maybe because I'm so used to these dancers dancing the Balanchine version that Schumacher's choreography seemed to fall flat. For instance, in the coda Dewdrop (Mira Nadon) just did fouettes. That's just IMO lazy choreography. I thought other companies' abbreviated Nuts were more imaginative with storytelling. Like the Scottish Ballet's Secret Theatre was a very inventive, music-hall adaptation of Nutcracker with an unexpectedly heartwarming storyline. It's probably something I would have enjoyed in person but as a film it fell very flat.

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I thought the overall concept was very clever and well-executed, and I would have liked to see it in person--I think some of the bad choreography would have bothered me less. I liked Snow and Marzipan. I thought Flowers was awful: repetitive, and the costumes were so ugly. The rest of the steps were unremarkable. For me, watching Schmacher's choreography just emphasized how wonderful Balanchine's choreography is. Agree with everyone Mira Nadon was lovely. So nice to see everyone dancing again.

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