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San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002
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Author:  Basheva [ Tue Sep 03, 2002 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002



San Francisco Ballet, celebrating its 70th Anniversary Season this year, is America's first professional ballet company, and the first company in America to premiere Nutcracker in the United States on December 24, 1944.

The production performed today is San Francisco Ballet's fourth version, and it premiered on December 12, 1986.

There are 74 children's roles in Nutcracker. All parts are double cast so there are at least 148 San Francisco Ballet School students from all over the nation involved.

There are more than 170 costumes for Nutcracker.

The mouse costumes require the most upkeep. The toes are made out of foam and almost always fall off during the scuffle with the infantry. Since the costumes limit the dancers' sight, they also step on each other's tails quite often.

The cost of a jeweled tutu for the Sugar Plum Fairy or similar ballerina ranges from $3,200 to $4,200. For example, a new Dancing Bear costume was made in 1993 and cost approximately $2,500.

Four dressers have to help Mother Ginger into her gargantuan costume, which can accommodate herself and her family of eight children (who hide under her skirt).

It takes 45 minutes to one hour for Drosselmeyer to put on his makeup.

The snow is made of recycled paper. Approximately 100 pounds are used for each performance. Large fans are used to make the snow storm effect. If all the snow fell at once, the stage would be buried in three feet of snow!

The Christmas tree in Nutcracker is 28 feet tall. It is lifted manually by a rope and pulley system. It would take a real pine tree 15-20 years to grow the same 28 feet.

At the end of the ballet, the Nutcracker chariot flies 22 feet in the air with the Prince and Clara. To be safe, both children are fitted with chariot seat belts.

We never give away any secrets of how the magic is performed: it's purely magic!

Tickets go on sale September 3rd, 2002. For detailed ticket information please see this thread in Press Releases:

San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Sep 03, 2002 12:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

More items of interest:



San Francisco Ballet, the company that brought America its first full-length Nutcracker back in 1944, is continuing the tradition with 35 performances and two student matinees, December 10-29 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Fifty-eight years ago, San Francisco Ballet started in America what is today a cultural phenomenon. This year, over 100,000 people from the Bay Area and beyond will attend San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker, a two-act full-length story ballet featuring Clara and over 170 storybook characters. This production includes original choreography by Lew Christensen and additional choreography by Willam Christensen and Helgi Tomasson, vivid scenery and costumes designed by Jose Varona, and lighting design by David K.H. Elliott. The distinguished San Francisco Ballet Orchestra performs Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's famous score, making this production like no other in the Bay Area.

To complete the Nutcracker experience at San Francisco Ballet, the beautiful War Memorial Opera House will be transformed into a holiday wonderland, festooned with ribbons, garlands, and sparkling ornaments. A hand-constructed 12-foot chocolate Nutcracker will stand watch over the foyer, scenting the air with the tantalizing smell of chocolate. The San Francisco Ballet Boutique will glitter with specially selected gifts, ornaments, and other holiday items for the savvy gift-shopper. San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker is an unforgettable experience and is a treat for all the senses.

Nutcracker Opening Night Celebration
"Of all the grand openings ...San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker may well be the most exciting," says the San Francisco Chronicle. Join us on Opening Night Tuesday, December 10 as the Opera House becomes a magical holiday wonderland, with magicians, carolers, and costumed characters. Opening Night tickets include surprises and special treats for all in attendance.

Snow Flurries in San Francisco

Even before the curtain rises on San Francisco Ballet's production, patrons will experience the magic of Nutcracker. Prior to every evening performance, snow will fall on the majestic steps of the War Memorial Opera House creating a nightly outdoor blizzard!

Nutcracker Student Matinees

Two Nutcracker Student Matinees will be presented at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 11
and Thursday, December 12 at the War Memorial Opera House. Tickets for the matinees,
which are reserved for organized school and home school groups of 20 or more, range in price
from $10-$30. The student matinees are designed to be both educational and fun, and are a
wonderful way to acquaint students with the magic and beauty of dance. All teachers receive
an educational study guide to further enhance students' experience of attending the ballet.
Orders will be handled via mail order only, on a first-come, first-served basis. For further
information, contact the Ticket Services Office at 415.865.2000, Monday through Friday, 10:00
a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

<small>[ 09-03-2002, 14:02: Message edited by: Basheva ]</small>

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Dec 03, 2002 5:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Win free tickets!


San Francisco Ballet—Creator of America’s First Nutcracker—Beseeches Public to Help Locate Dancing Bear Through Online “Where’s the Bear?” Contest
<a href=;f=13;t=000939 target=_blank>More</a>

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

A review from the Chronicle.

'Nutcracker' charming as ever
Sets, costumes a bit dowdy, but dancing prevails for S.F. Ballet

Octavio Roca, Chronicle Dance Critic

We take for granted all this "Nutcracker" madness, but remember that it all started right here. When the Tchaikovsky ballet burst on the holiday scene in San Francisco more than half a century ago, Willam Christensen's production was the only one in the United States.

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Dec 12, 2002 1:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

And the San Jose Mercury News.

Magic afoot
By Anita Amirrezvani
Mercury News

Like a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, the San Francisco Ballet's annual ``Nutcracker'' is always rich with magical surprises.

Every year, the final moments of the show offer a wonderful treat. That's when Clara and her prince fly away in a chariot that ascends more than 20 feet in the air, while all the characters in the Land of the Sweets wave goodbye. Such theatrical magic remains a special delight of the San Francisco Ballet's ``Nutcracker.''

Actually there are 175 kids (not 74 as stated)in SFB's Nutcracker. There are 74 childrens roles, but some of the roles are triple cast and many advanced students dance company roles (Snow. Flowers, etc.)

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Dec 13, 2002 1:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

And from the Examiner.

A chestnut of a 'Nutcracker'
Examiner Dance Critic

But opening night brought another batch of youngsters: fresh-faced soloists and principals who have made a splash during the recent tours. Gonzalo Garcia and Vanessa Zahorian, both in their early 20s, presided as Snow King and Queen over the glorious onstage blizzard (the best scene of any "Nut," and this production's strongest, as sliding scrims make the children glide right through a dense forest).

Author:  djb [ Sat Dec 14, 2002 4:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Maybe this link will work for the review above.

Rachel Howard review

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sun Dec 15, 2002 11:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

“Nutcracker,” San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Opera House, December 11—29, 2002

Does your inner life play host to a war between urbanity and vulnerability at this time of year? If so, this season’s San Francisco Ballet Company production of “Nutcracker” could resolve your dilemma. Rather than harden like marzipan, you might melt like snow. Here are some of the reasons why:

As the Dancing Doll, lovely Clara Blanco “gets” her coaching. She bumps through her variation like your favorite childhood treasure without knees. Like lights rigged in series, her arms crank up—and then down. She is keyed by Drosselmeyer (Jim Sohm) to bend forward, and so stops on the perpendicular with a little residual flip-flop, as her head inclines upward. Watch her for an extra second and you see that the same momentum causes her to blink—just once, and then she’s wide-eyed again.

Never before a memorable role, Clara, danced by the delicately winsome, yet strong and lively Mona Meng, won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Her genuine smile stops just short of an irrepressible grin. It fully reflects the delight this holiday confection is intended to confer. When Fritz breaks her Nutcracker, she doesn’t pretend to cry. Instead, she takes a moment to absorb the pure horror of her loss, à la Valley girl, minus the affectation. The vanished smile tells us all we need to know about this tragic moment.

“Mice” is the only low point of the December 14th program. For some reason, ramming all of San Francisco Ballet School’s Level Six and Level Seven onto the stage is viewed as a good thing. I don’t know why. Their parents and friends can’t see their faces. All the soldiers do is march; all the horses do is gallop; and all the blinded mice do is run into each other and almost pass out under their costumes. There is nothing combative-looking about this scene, and the burst of canon-ball fire offers little more than pathetic underscoring of that irony. Maybe it’s a metaphor for the United States’ government’s impending war against Iraq…a political statement. Luckily, Val Caniparoli’s Mouse King has some amusing choreography at the end that saves the final moments, and leaves ‘em laughing (the audience and probably most of the cast).

On the other hand, the Snow scene was pristinely quiet and spiritual. As Queen and King of Snow, Katita Waldo and Stephen Legate are impeccably matched. From their first upstage corner cambre back to their exit, we see exquisite, respectful, and egalitarian partnering. Waldo gives us arms that could be White Birch limbs dusted with snow, with glittering pirouettes and attitudes. Legate offers his admiring ministrations with a great affection, seemingly borne of years of shared moments like these. It is an exemplar for every student. The snowflake women’s corps gave us a splendidly musical performance.

The Land of the Sweets offered a mixed sampler. The set needs some re-thinking, and perhaps in the new Nutcracker that has been forecast for a number of years now, that will be done. The colors have faded, and the installation of various pillars of sweets seems to rob the stage of needed space. Spanish Chocolate was danced well. We are given to expect so much from the entrance, costumes and music, but the choreography is so simple that we can feel a bit let down. Moises Martín was put in at the last minute for Damian Smith. While danced with his usual mastery, Martín’s Arabian Coffee with Sherri Le Blanc seemed a little one-dimensional. This role requires considerable character acting if it is to succeed, and that wasn’t present in this instance.

Pascal Molat was splendid as the lead in Chinese Tea, with split jumps that bisected the stratosphere. Elana Altman, Kathleen Martuza, Sara Van Patten and Leslie Young danced the Mirlitons/Dresden Dolls raptly. Russian Cossacks took the audience by storm. Hansuke Yamamoto was put in for Gonzalo Garcia as lead Cossack. In the SFB version, they enter with gigantic battue leaps before the music, and then give us a great show. There was a moment when Jonathan Mangosing seemed to miss a step and then get flustered, and come in late on the series of turns that he initiates, but he got it together for the remainder of the divertissement and the men, including Pablo Piantino, made for a great trio.

The chorus of Flowers appeared as a glistening chrysalis for Kristin Long’s delightful butterfly. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier were danced by Yuan Yuan Tan and Vadim Solomakha. The subtleties of Tan’s dancing have become more visible with her maturation. When she takes her á la seconde extension, she’ll just give the tiniest glance at that foot aligned with her ear--as if a dewdrop just lighted on it. It is nothing if not fetching, as of course, are her delicately regal inflations at the peak of each crescendo in the pas de deux. That’s why it was a little maddening (for the audience and I’m thinking for her as well) when the orchestra slowed to a dirge tempo when it came time for her pirouettes at the end. She stayed dutifully on the music, but it was the kind of moment you have when you suspect you’ve got a flat tire, but aren’t sure. If you dance as perfectly as Tan does, the audience will see when you step a bit too far over into a lift from a turn. With other dancers, we might not even notice. Solomakha was gallant and generous as Cavalier, his mega-elevation and extensions going great guns. “Feet, feet, feet,” we hear our inner voice urging. He has such beautiful ones, and should roll through and fully point them a bit more consistently.

As Clara sped off to the heavens in her swan mobile, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d see Mona Meng on the stage again someday in a luscious tutu role that would mirror the inspiring examples set by Waldo and Tan this season.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Dec 15, 2002 11:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Many thanks Toba for taking the trouble to describe the performance in sufficient detail that those of us who will not be seeing the work can at least see it through your eyes.

<small>[ 12-15-2002, 12:16: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Sun Dec 15, 2002 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

It's gratifying to read that Clara Blanco's performance fulfilled the promise shown in the photo I saw of her as the doll, in which she looked amazingly like a real doll.

<small>[ 12-15-2002, 12:57: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Sun Dec 15, 2002 11:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

I saw part of the matinee of SFB’s Nutcracker today. I arrived just before the Kingdom of the Snow scene. Sherri LeBlanc and Peter Brandenhoff* as the royal snow couple looked very good together, but I wish the Snow King had a bit more dancing to do. LeBlanc moves her upper body fully and beautifully, and has one of the most appealing smiles in SFB. Her strong, dashing look was well suited to the feeling of a snowstorm.

I liked Pauli Magierek in Arabian Coffee. Like the actual dancers from the part of the world that this divertissement purports to represent, her allure is of the friendly, inviting type, as opposed to the non-smiling, lowered-eyebrows, touch-me-if-you-dare look that many dancers affect in this role.

The grand pas de deux was danced by Vanessa Zahorian and Guennadi Nedviguine. Zahorian has become a radiant ballerina, with style, élan and aplomb to match her very secure technique. Only one thing bothered me, and it’s something I haven’t seen before. I’ve always thought she had excellent port de bras (she still does), but in today’s performance, her fingers sometimes looked stiff and tense. They looked fine whenever the tempo was adagio, so maybe it was a deliberate stylistic choice. But since I don’t like the stiff-fingered look, I found it distracting. But overall, her performance was excellent. It’s always a pleasure to watch Nedviguine, and together, these two fine dancers created a memorable performance.

I enjoy seeing corps de ballet members show off their abilities, and today I saw Frances Chung do just that, as the Butterfly in the Waltz of the Flowers. Chung, trained in Vancouver and a Prix de Lausanne prizewinner, joined the corps de ballet last season. She has a lovely line, strong jumps and fast, secure turns. To top it all off, she has an expressive face and beautiful upper body movement. I look forward to following her progress in the company.

I was paying more attention to the choreography today than I usually do, and was very impressed by the snow scene. It's a beautiful one, yet the choreography is so simple. The corps de ballet does little more than sautés arabesques, grands jetés and a few saut de basques, with lots of running in between, but the entrances and exits and figures create the effect of whirling snow very well.

* I originally wrote the wrong name here, resulting in some of the posts below.

<small>[ 12-16-2002, 16:31: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sun Dec 15, 2002 11:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Stuart--You must come at Christmastime and see EVERYTHING here!

DJB--Clara Blanco is a gem, trained by Maria De Avila in Lerida, Spain, who placed at the Prix de Lausanne and chose SFB as her school. She didn't fit the profile of the company, but was finally hired anyway, and THANK GOODNESS!!!

Another Prix de Lausanne winner to watch is Frances Chung, a corps member who will dance Butterfly next week.

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sun Dec 15, 2002 11:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Yikes, DJB--Looks like our posts crossed in the ether and that we're on the same wave-length, as well as thread. Scary! Must be that wind blowing so hard tonight!

Author:  djb [ Mon Dec 16, 2002 12:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

Speaking of wind, it's a good thing SFB's production has the traditional snow scene and not a San Francisco winter weather scene - all that rain and wind would wreak havoc onstage.

Author:  djb [ Mon Dec 16, 2002 12:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Season - 2002

GN (I hope you're following this thread), when you were in SFB, did you perform the Butterfly? Of all the roles in this production, that's the one that looks like the most fun to me - lots of jumps!

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