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I saw the matinee on Dec.21. Kudelka's version is not my cup of tea either, but I get to see the show for free when I volunteer, and it is kind of a Christmas tradition. It was exciting to see Rebekah Rimsay's debut as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Kudelka's variation is particularly deathly for the ballerina, she hardly gets to bend her knees. It's very difficult, yet it doesn't look like it is, the movements are a bit stiff. I remember Kim Glasco complaining that it was hard on her knees, and she had a very 'easy' body... Rimsay made it look quite elegant though, and the grand pas with Ryan Boorne was nice and went smoothly. The children from the National did a good job too. Chris Body put in some great dancing as Uncle Nikolai.

The production is very lavish and visually stunning, as most of Kudelka's are, so it's great for selling tickets (kids love the dancing horse, and skating bears). I find it a bit over-the-top, especially that big faberge egg ! He takes a German story and relocates it to Russia, typical Kudelka. I also didn't like how he did the character dances. The arabian coffee is quite beautiful, but the chinese tea has been changed, and it's just a baker running around and some children playing 'patty-cake'. Also, the russian music is used for a solo for the Nutcracker. The Snow Scene was breathtaking though, I must say. Stephanie Hutchison was a perfectly icy queen.

Not my favourite producation (or ballet for that matter, hearing the music in restaurants and shopping malls, one gets a bit sick of it sometimes), it was still nice to see the theatre so full, and the visible excitement in the eyes of the young audience members, many first-time balletgoers. I hope they are encouraged to see some of NBoC's other performances!

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Unfortunately, the dance scene in Toronto is not what it used to be, and is certainly not as alive as it is in most big American cities. IMO, NBoC is really the only company that consistently offers high-standard classical dancing. As for the modern scene, I'm less knowledgable about that. That being said, there is a "Stars of the 21st Century" gala coming up in April, that was a hit last year. The dancers are usually from ABT, NYCB, Royal, POB, and such. The National Ballet School's Spring Showcase (in May) is also very good. NBoC is also having a fundraiser in Feb. "Dine and Dance with the Dancers" for which Matjash Mrozewski has choreographed a new ballet called "A Swingin' Defile".

For contemporary dance, there's the fringe festival of independent dance artists (fFIDA) in July/August. It is very hit and miss. There are some hidden gems to be discouvered though, if you're willing. The Harbourfront Centre also hosts different companies, Ballet Creole, Danceworks, Toronto Dance Theatre etc. Try looking at their website: www.harbourfront.on.ca .

The mixed rep winter program looks to be one of the best, with vintage ballets "Spectre de la Rose" and "Napoli". "Elite Syncopations" is always fun and they've added "Judgement of Paris" to the program, which I'm very interested in seeing.

P.S. There isn't that much snow on the ground here, like last year, it's been a mild winter. It looked like we weren't going to have a white Christmas, but it snowed just that morning!

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Also as far as modern dance there is a big festival in Harbourfront Centre (Premiere Dance Theatre) that goes on from October to May. It's international and it's name is "World Moves" (you can see this year's program on that same link for Harbourfront Centre).

In past few seasons there were some well known international companies like Trisha Brown, Rosas, Preljocaj etc. (and their programs are similar to what they bring to US tours) but also very interesting Canadian ones (I'm looking forward to Toronto Dance Theatre's "Severe Clear" this season).

Sorry, I know this is place for NBoC and Nutcracker, I just wanted to follow up on Paquita's post about events in Toronto and I apologize for this digression :)

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