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 Post subject: Connecticut Holiday Performances 2003
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 11:07 am 
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New spins on a classic

By NICK R. SCALIA
The Hartford Courant
December 18, 2003

Fans of "The Nutcracker" have ample choices of the enduring holiday ballet.

That's because it's being presented in five productions this week, incorporating everything from Mark Twain to icebergs in interpretations of the traditional holiday tale. For those unfamiliar with "The Nutcracker," the ballet tells the story of a young girl's Christmas Eve voyage to a dream world inhabited by a magician, a nutcracker prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Each performance puts a different spin on Tchaikovsky and E.T.A. Hoffman's creation, some even imbuing it with some distinctly Connecticut qualities.
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 Post subject: Re: Connecticut Holiday Performances 2003
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2003 8:27 am 
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A Visual Masterpiece

By SHARMA HOWARD
Special to The Hartford Courant
December 22, 2003

Setting the "Nutcracker" ballet in the rugged Sierra Nevadas was Kirk Peterson's boldest move as artistic director of the Hartford Ballet - and today, "Kirk Peterson's American Nutcracker" endures as a production of exquisite color, fantasy, charm and magic.

The lighting and sets, designed by Alexander V. Nichols, and the costumes and décor, by Sandra Woodall, make this "Nutcracker," performed Saturday to a nearly full house at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, a visual masterpiece.
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 Post subject: Re: Connecticut Holiday Performances 2003
PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2003 8:30 am 
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Dancers Get A Lift From A Pro

By DANIEL P. JONES
The Hartford Courant
December 23, 2003

FARMINGTON -- It's not every kindergarten that has a former Hartford Ballet dancer help choreograph its production of the "Nutcracker."

The children in the three kindergarten classes at the Union School in Unionville were guided Monday in their performances of the classic holiday ballet by parent Debra Ryder, who was a principal dancer with the ballet for about half of her 13 years with the company.
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 Post subject: Re: Connecticut Holiday Performances 2003
PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2003 11:45 am 
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Location: Southwick, MA, USA
Review: Kirk Peterson's Nutcracker with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra presented by Dance Connecticut at the Bushnell, Hartford, CT, December 20-23, 2003.

In Kirk Peterson’s Nutcracker, the metaphor “heading west”- meaning a return to a Golden Age- figuratively comes true.

The ballet’s Sierra Nevada setting, its mid 19th century Gold Rush time frame, and its cast of his historical personages combines with its scenic wonders to move the traditionally urbane and confectionary Nutcracker into a kind of historical romance that celebrates the natural world. Nevertheless, the Golden Age discovered in Peterson’s Nutcracker retains the domestic stability of its urbane siblings. Moreover and in complementary contrast to familiar works written by one of its party scene’s guests, Mark Twain, and keeping the “men are men and women are women” tenor of its historical setting in mind, this American Nutcracker is written about and for young women.

In the Party Scene, the choreography radiates the warmth of Tchaikovsky’s music in its picture of domestic ambience and social conviviality. The communication of character and motivation of action, such as the tit for tat rivalry between the male and female children exemplified in the boy’s noisy disruption of the girl’s rocking their dolls as payback for the girl’s disruption of the boy’s martial “drill and ceremony” practice earlier in the party scene, and the social dance interaction between adults and children manifest an attention to detail that made the Party Scene vivid and believable. Moreover, as paring or partnering or teamwork displayed in the Party and Battle Scenes, such as Lotta’s distraction of the Boss Rat with a well aimed slipper, marks a building block of the domestic stability embraced in this vision of the Age of Gold, pairing also structures the ballet. Although spiced with solos such as those danced by Lotta Crabtree (a.k.a. Clara/Marie), the Winter Sprite, the Ladybug Doll, and the Grasshopper Soldier in Act I as well as the Sugar Plum Faerie Queen and King in Act II, all other dances beginning with the Snow pas feature pairing or partnering or teamwork.

Whether crystallized in the fast moving sculptural forms shaped by pairs of Snow Faeries or flowing vapor-like through the melting-folding-opening motion yielded by the Snow Faerie Queen on the closing chords of the Snow pas, the choreography seemed to have absorbed the music; and as if by some magical sonic variation of photosynthesis converted its spectrum of sound- its energy, shape, flow, and color- into ballet. Consequent upon this ideal exchange between sight and sound, the choreography neatly parried the contempt brought by familiarity with this Holiday favorite renewing, thereby, the coloristic richness and textural variety of the scoring as a source of enjoyment. Without the excellence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Glen Adsit, conducting, however, the effectiveness of the woodwinds, for example, to create the Forest Murmurs (from Wagner’s Siegfried) like mood at the beginning of Lotta’s magic spell and the mystical ambience of the Native American Shaman and Golden Eagle Spirit divertissement (a.k.a. Arabian), or to define characters such as the mice, Mine Rats, Lacewings, or to sound the clarion calls of toy armies, and to sharpen the intensity of the Sugar Pas would have been diminished.

In fact, the productive link between dance and music and the ballet’s structural element of paring as well as its celebration of domestic stability reflect the cooperative effort and devotion invested in, what one hopes to be the annual performances of Kirk Peterson’s Nutcracker. Students from Dance Connecticut, the Hartt School of the University of Hartford, plus the dancers of the ABT’s Studio Company, guests artists: ABT soloists-Carlos Molina and Michele Wiles, Momix member, Tim Melady, plus Rinus Sprong, Thom Stuart, James Garber, and Maria Youskevitch, who set the parts and rehearsed the children’s cast and performed the role of Mary Crabtree Booth combined their time and talent to fulfill the demands of the choreography and provide audiences with an abundance of cheer.


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