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Whirling, twirling, dancing

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I confess to being one of those people who love NYCB's Nutcracker and have seen it four times this season at wide intervels. The company should be praised for its strong and enthusiastic dancing throughout the six week marathon. The corps generally looked good and there was no sense of performing by rote in the shows I saw. Snow and Flower always looked beautiful.

Surprisingly, I only saw one cast of children. Tyler Gurfein who danced the Nucracker Prine is a real dancer, not afraid to move big but aware of details such as pointing his feet. Bravo to him!

Although usually there are frequent cast changes, I only saw Amanda Edge as Marzipan. She is a dancer I enjoy but her performance was disappointing and I finally decided it was because she didn't really use her feet well, which blurs some of the choreographic detail.

The ladies who danced principal Spanish were also a disappointment. Neither Ash, Rutherford or McBreaty danced cleanly or musically but I did enjoy watching apprentice Jessica Flynn as oneof the supporting ladies - she seemed to be having fun.

I saw Gold, Jared Angle and Suozzi as Candy Cane. Surprisingly because I would have thought he was too tall for the role, Angle gave the best performance - clean, musical and lovely jumps. Suozzi's failure to pointe his feet really detracts from his dancing in this role.

All of the Dewdrops I saw - Somoygi, Taylor, Tinsley and Van Kipnis - were good but only Somoygi combined terrific musicality with stellar technique. Taylor's performance was exciting but it's time for her to be in control of her effects. I always feel she doesn't really know what she is doing and while it is thrilling I'd like to see another dimension to her dancing. Van Kipnis doesn't have Taylor's strength but her performance gains its power from a very sophisticated response to the music that she makes visible to us. And I was happy to see Tinsley again - I had feared she'd fallen into the pit of eternal peril that swallows up so many NYCB female solists.

The Sugarplums and Cavaliers I saw were Bouree and Martins, Asanelli and Woetzel, Ringer and Tinsley, and Kowrowski and Hanna. Of these only, Woetzel gave a really strong performance, both as a partner and a dancer. Asanelli seems to bring out the best in him as a partner, gentle and concerned, and his dancing in the coda was fabulous. Neither Martins nor Tewsley seemed to be in top form and Hanna just seemed callow although he partnered Kowrowski adeqately.

I like the Sugarplum Fairy to be mistress of the Kingdom and only Ringer and Kowrowski achieved that. Asanelli danced beautifully, she has a kind of pearly glow now that is a delight to see but she is not yet a full fledged ballerina - she doesn't take responsibility for creating a world around her own performance. I also wonder whether given her less than perfect turnout Dewdrop isn't a better part for her - she needs to be moving to look her best.

Bouree conquered her nerves for much of the performance and danced well but unexcitingly. Kowrowski brought down the house yesterday in the final balance at the end of the ppd. She could have stayed there for ever. A fitting climax to my Nutcracker season.

And now for repertory!

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I was not as into Nutracker this season (though I have three more left-- taking my nephew for the first time and actually paying to see it on Friday!)... but I did see a bunch of 2nd acts, so far.

This past Sunday matinee, Ringer and Boal gave an especially splendid performance. One of the NYCB dancers commented to me about how great it was. When Ringer is *on*, she imbues each movement with such feeling and passion. Nothing is a throwaway move for her. Such expression in those neck and shoulders of hers!

I did see Kistler do one performnance with Soto. The upside was that the pas de deux was gorgeous. The downside was that she did a lot of flubbing and changing of the choreography in the initial pink tutu solo. That depressed me, as I have been one of those not seeing the decline in her abilities.

I didn't see any Sugarplums or Dewdrops I disliked, but I also did sit out a few Act IIs... :-)

Somogyi still remains my favorite Dewdrop for the same reasons I loved Ringer's Sugarplum. Time goes more slowly when I watch Somogyi.

I have grown to appreciate Taylor more and more (or maybe it is because she has matured... or both). Hers would not be the one Dewdrop I'd want to see (as I prefer the Somogyi approached), but I do feel exhilarated by hers. She does seem to be as light as air, in no way earthbound.

I still enjoy Whelan's Dewdrop and Sugarplum, but not much to say there.

As far as the rest of the cast of characters... I actually love Edge's Marzipan. She has been perfect in every performance I have seen. Not only articulating each step carefully (and nailing all the hard parts) but adding great charm and grace, as well.

I, of course, delight in Ulbricht's performances, but I missed seeing Hall's Tea. He might not have the height (in the jumps!) of Ulbricht, but when he'd do the front attitude, it would be as if he were singing with the orchestra. I didn't get that from any of the Teas I saw this year.

Arthurs and Abergel's Coffee drew me in with their sex appeal. I still think Reichlen miscast in this role. SHe might not be that much younger than Arthurs, but she does not yet have the maturity to carry off the part.

Not much else left much of an impression. As I said, I was a bit burned out on Nutcracker at the beginnning of this season.

I do have a few more left, incl. Sylve on Friday.


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Guest Little Swan

Thought I'd offer the perspective of an aspiring dancer! I saw the matinee performance on Sunday 29 - it was beautiful!

My favorite part I would have to say was waltz of the flowers. The corps really looked beautiful here, aided by the gorgeous costumes. Wendy Whelan was Dewdrop. This was the first time I have seen her dance in person and I was thoroughly impressed. I thought she was as close to perfect as anyone I have seen - in all aspects - perfect balances, turns, and extensions.

Jennifer Ringer was the Sugarplum Fairy - the best word I can think of to describe her performance would be sparkling. She just had a wonderful presence. Another highlight for me was Faye Arthurs as Arabian.

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