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 Post subject: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2001 12:58 am 
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<B>ABT Embraces a Sweetly Familiar 'Nutcracker'</B> <BR>By Sarah Kaufman in The Washington Post <P><BR>He looks a little lonely onstage, but that single unicorn nevertheless marks a great improvement in American Ballet Theatre's "Nutcracker." The ballet, which opened Wednesday at the Kennedy Center Opera House and continues through Sunday evening, has been quietly reworked since last year's appearances. Gone are most of the bizarre elements that ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie had interpolated into the traditional story. What's left is the basic framework. <P><A HREF="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6087-2001Dec6.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2001 7:41 am 
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“Nutcracker”<P>December 14, 2001<P>Kodak Theater, Hollywood<P><BR>It’s easily been 16 years since I last saw “Nutcracker” performed. It was the Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati Ballet had a relentless dedication to the old standard which I recall not liking terribly much at the time. But age has a way of changing ones perceptions and of what one looks forward to gleening from the holiday season. So, it was with great excitement that I welcomed the news that a company so gifted in their classical repertoire as the American Ballet Theater would be bringing their “Nutcracker” to my own backyard this Christmas. Whereas I recall the Cincinnati Ballet being so mindful of tradition, Kevin McKenzie’s reworked version seems to pay it little heed. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, traditional is a tricky thing when tampered with. <P>This is first and foremost a children’s tale. But despite the oft-noted appeal to the “little girls in the audience,” I’d like to suggest there is also an appeal to the child inside so often ignored. Afterall, who cannot help but feel something tingle every time they see the snowflakes start to fall no matter what your age? I think that awe inspired child in me was sadly disappointed last night. So many elements I wanted to see again were simply not there. <P>After an over-long party scene, Clara finally dreams her way into the magic realm. But something was immediately amiss. The Christmas tree didn’t grow! In what felt more like an old fashioned movie “wipe”, the tree lifts out of frame revealing the enlarged base of an immense tree. Okay. Sense of wonder moment number one gone. I hoped they’d redeem themselves with the battle between the mice and tin soldiers. Again, tradition was laid aside for more of a Keystone Cops moment where jolly mice get the upper hand on buffoonish soldiers. While very amusing, there was no sense of drama, no sweeping victory over the forces of evil. <P>The appearance of the Nutcracker Prince to save the day was very interesting as he strode out of the cabinet where Clara keeps her prized dolls. Angel Corella is charming and delightful to watch. No matter how difficult the choreography, he managed to look at ease and relaxed throughout. Xiomara Reyes was a very convincing Clara. Together they made an athletic and exuberant pair, negotiating their way through some pretty intense partnering. But their duet had a frantic, nervous energy more suited to two people who just met in a bar than the dream pairing of a star-crossed girl and her white knight. <P>Act II, the source of so many memorable moments and much hummed music delivered on most levels. The partnering of Irina Dorovenko as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Maxim Belotserkovsky as her Cavalier was the highlight of the evening. The audience responded enthusiastically to these two fine performers. Dorovenko was appropriately light and airy, making barely a sound as she danced on pointe [no small feat as the acoustics in my section were quite lively]. I’d not yet seen Belotserkovsky perform and I cannot wait to see him again; Such amazing strength and extensions. Carmen Corella and Marcel Gomes were the first real treat of the second act as the performed the Arabian dance, ending with a particularly nifty bit of partnering. <P>But all was not well in the Land of the Sweets. In fact, they seemed to have passed the Land of the Sweets altogether ending up in a Miami garden instead. Larger than life flowers burst into bloom as the Prince and Clara enter this new fantasy land. A nice trick, but I wanted to see the candy canes of old. And the dances we so long to see? The Spanish dance started them off on an up note, but the rest seemed to sag under the weight of moving set pieces and theater tricks. The Russian and Chinese dances seemed so much bigger and exotic when I was a child. <P>Victor Barbee was a delightful Drosselmeyer, much more a fulfiller of dreams than the mysterious figure I remember. And he was much more involved, orchestrating the events of Clara’s dreams. <P>And the Kodak Theater? A truly impressive space. Our seats in the first mezzanine were high enough to see the patterns well and close enough to feel intimate without the need of opera glasses. But the much maligned acoustics were definitely in question. From our vantage point the music was crystal clear. In fact, it was so good I could hear the men’s technique shoes brushing across the stage at times. However, friends in the sixth row orchestra mentioned the music went “right over them,” missing out on it’s impact. The Theater staff could learn a few things as well. People were allowed to wander in and out, ushers opened doors to un-used boxes several times and they ran out of programs. I found a stray cast list on the floor as I left and snatched it up before someone else could. And while no cell phones when off [a remarkable event for a Los Angeles audience], the endless chattering of a three year old in front of me in the second act was almost too much to bear. This may be a “children’s” ballet, but three is a bit too young and parents should think about those around them before encouraging children to ask endless questions during a performance [Yes, they seems to actually encourage it].<P>While I left he theater longing for the more traditional “Nutcracker” I remember from my youth, there is much to appreciate here. The ABT is a technically amazing company and always enjoyable to watch. Paul Kelly’s set design is imaginative and lavish, and Theoni Aldredge’s costume design was colorful as a child’s dream should be, laced with a sense of mirth and wonder. From what I’ve read, this version is closer to traditional elements than previous years. Though light and amusing, I miss the sense of drama a more traditional “Nutcracker” provides.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2001 8:15 am 
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That's a great review, Two Left Feet - <P>I often feel that frenetic grappling frantic nervous energy, that you mention in the pas de deux to be evident in many ballets of the last several years. And unless it fits the storyline (which it generally doesn't) it is spoiled for me.


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2001 12:21 pm 
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News from the frontlines: Carlos Molina replaces an injured Ethan Stiefel.


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 5:54 am 
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From the Los Angeles Times:<P> Image <P><B>ABT Works Hard to Create Magic in 'Nutcracker'<BR>At the new Kodak Theatre, the revised Kevin McKenzie staging tends to strain at the seams. Still, some of the performers make it leap to life.</B><P>By LEWIS SEGAL, Times Dance Critic<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>In one sense, the American Ballet Theatre "Nutcracker" and the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood are made for each other. <BR> Extensively revised since its problematic premiere eight years ago at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the staging by ABT artistic director Kevin McKenzie is now a faceless, by-the-numbers version that doesn't bear careful attention. Putting it in a glittering, brand-new theater gives it an event status that it can't command alone--even with starry casting atypical of the company's Southland visits in recent years and some stars-in-the-making coming from the lower ranks.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.calendarlive.com/top/1,1419,L-LATimes-Theater-X!ArticleDetail-48489,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A> <BR> <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited December 19, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 9:01 am 
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From ABT's Enotesonpointe email newsletter:<P>"American Ballet Theatre performs on The Tonight Show!<P>Don't miss ABT dancers performing an excerpt from The Nutcracker on The Tonight Show scheduled to air on Wednesday, December 19th on NBC."<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2001 9:38 pm 
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“Nutcracker” American Ballet Theater at the Kodak Theater, Hollywood<BR>12/16/01 evening<BR>Chor. Kevin McKenzie, “Waltz of the Flowers” by John Meehan; Scenery—Paul Kelley; Costumes—Theoni V. Aldredge w/ associate Barbara Matera; Lighting—Tom Skelton, Rui Rita<P>The proscenium is alive.<P>An ABT “Nutcracker” performance isn’t usually where one has come to expect a post-modernist rumination, but there is no mistaking the pre-curtain, or perhaps “circum—” curtain, activity. Paul Kelley’s fanciful proscenium poses the question, when—exactly—does the show begin? For the performers—is it when the curtain goes up, the warm up before the show, the 2 minute warning, morning class? Or for the audience—is setting up the evening, the getting to, and the chatter before the show as much of the ritual of seeing a show as the show itself?<P>Paul Kelley’s cartoonish proscenium features revolving snowflakes and flowers, a train that moves forward and back, a bobbing peacock, and a hot air balloon that ascends and descends. The curtain itself is a fantasy of an snow covered alpine village. For a second I imagined it to be the work of some trickster—fed up with those discreet Phillip Morris ads—had snatched the façade from Disney’s “It’s a Small World” (winter holiday version) and foisted the same onto ABT.<P><BR>As usual, Arlene Croce leads the discussion. In a 1977 review, she distinguished between “Nutcrackers” that used children in the Clara/Marie, Nutcracker Prince role (like NYCB, SFB’s versions) and those that dispensed with them, like ABT’s Baryshnikov version and now McKenzie’s. Some versions privilege a sort of lavendarized version of Victorian bourgeois childhood, usually those with the child Clara and Prince. Others draw on darker, psychoanalytic currents—the use of adults as Clara and Prince lends itself to a 2 part structure corresponding to an “éducation sentimentale,” a lesson in love and growth. Here is Balanchine quoting Alan Kriegsman on Baryshnikov’s version: “while a child’s Christmas dream is the basis for this version of the ballet, here ‘the child is older—a girl on the verge of adolescence—and the dream branches out to become, not just wish-fulfillment of a candy kingdom, but an envisagement of mature love, incarnate in the Nutcracker Prince.’ ”<P>McKenzie’s choreography is sort of in the middle. A very fey Xiomara Reyes plays Clara to Angel Corrella’s Nutcracker Prince. Their “transformation” pas de deux is the most developed of those available. They meet and there is attraction, but it is the kind that nuns could approve of. However, McKenzie doesn’t allow them to usurp the Sugarplum Fairy’s Act II prerogative as owner of the showy finale. Has anybody learned anything from this sort of “éducation sentimentale” which goes from a Victorian childhood of whipped cream and polished silver to a dream of fairy spring and blooming lilies? Sounds like a kind of dull bildungsroman—or considering the dancers—as dull as a bildungsroman can be with dancers like Joaquin De Luz, Angel Corella, Julie Kent, and Jose Manuel Carreno.<P>I’ve always appreciated “Nutcracker” choreography that used the guests or the dolls to link the waking world of the Stahlbaum’s and the dream of the mice/toy soldier battle or the Kingdom of the Sweets. As Basheva said in another thread, "Nutcracker represents a total dream," and our waking life provides the materials for our dream work. In the Baryshnikov version, the guest who breaks the Nutcracker toy returns as the Mouse King, fittingly to be revenged by the Nutcracker Prince himself. The Prince as the the dark hero of a Revenger's Tale. Here, Clara’s dolls, Pippa the Big Game Hunter, Heidi the Swiss Miss doll, Drosselmeyer’s dancing girl doll, toy soldier doll, and unicorn doll, a gift of Russian boxes, a fan, etc are the grist for Clara’s dream mill. But, if there is a significance to Clara’s subconscious of big game hunting or Swiss chocolate powder hucksters, I am missing it.<P>There is, however, much food for reflection in McKenzie’s artistic choices. For example, what’s up with the unicorns? Instead of the usual dancing dolls--Columbine, Pierrot, and Soldier at the Stahlbaum’s (or in this case, Silverhouse’s) party—there is a Sugar Plum Doll, Soldier Doll, and a Unicorn Doll. After the transformation of the Prince, a unicorn takes Clara and the Prince on a journey to the Land of the Snow. In medieval iconography, unicorns are associated with sexual and spiritual purity (e.g. unicorns only let virgins touch them), so their introduction into a ballet about childhood dreams seems innocent enough until you realize that the dream unicorn is a male (John Michael Schert) whereas the Unicorn Doll was a female (Anne Milewski). There is something a little menacing in this gender instability.<P>Moreover, the sense of a world slightly askew starts from the very first scene where Drosselmeyer is preparing his trunk of gifts to take to the Silverhouse’s. He picks out the Nutcracker toy, sets it on his writing table, and seems to be having a conversation with it. Moreover, he kisses the doll before adding it to his trunk. Naturally, Drosselmeyer is a pseudo-magician-like character and is entitled to a special status, but this behavior is simply not normal. McKenzie seems to implying some sort of gender critique or gender subversion, but we’re never really sure what it is.<P>To return to the dancing, in my personal taxonomy of Snowflake Waltzes, McKenzie’s “Land of the Snow” section falls into the “Swan Lake” variety rather than the “Giselle” variety. The corps were dressed in the drooping variety of swan tutu skirts with feathery pleats and silvery highlights. Clearly this is the most professional and breathtaking set of Snow Flakes of the southern California season—a highly trained corps, coached and rehearsed, selected for line, poise, and talent. I expect a déjà vu when they return in February for “Swan Lake.”<P>I’ve always liked the “Mirliton” or “Marzipan” section, so I was disappointed that McKenzie did not choose to include it. Seems a shame to miss an chance at showing more ABT dancers in demi-soloist variations. I was never keen on the “Mother Ginger” section, but its omission was indeed noticeable. As Arabian, Stella Abrera showed that this variation is more than just a slinky dance. Everybody in the audience enjoyed the visual joke of the comparison between the four Russian dancers of diminishing height to the Russian box-in-the-box. But apart from the dancing what struck me was how much the scenery of Act II resembled the Shakespearean world of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Perhaps all those fairies reminded me of Titania with her attendants, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed. Certainly the Spring imagery made this “Nutcracker” closer to the “Four Seasons” variations of Stevenson’s “Cinderella” which was the company’s holiday offering last year. Interestingly, the awful lot of stage business caused by those huge flower blossoms inflating reminded me of Warhol’s mylar pillows in Cunningham’s “Rainforest” (revived recently by the MCDC).<P>Julie Kent was radiant, as usual, and expertly partnered by Jose Manuel Carreno. I’m not sure I agree with Lewis Segal—she looked fine to me, but perhaps I am one of those ballet goers who perpetuate ballet’s association with eating disorders. When Angel Corella came out for a variation, essentially a promenade of grand jetes, you could almost imagine hearing him, “FINALLY, some dancing!” The audience responded appreciatively. I expect to go back—it will definitely be worth the almost 2 hour weekday commute from where I live.<P>Last note: The Kodak Theater. Like “2 Left Feet” I’ll share my impressions of this brand new venue (it even smells new). The reason why the music sounds like it was shooting over everybody’s heads was because it was booming from loudspeakers high above the stage. Heard from the main floor, the amplification almost overpowered the sound from the pit. The main floor sightlines were pretty good because the orchestra seating floor has a slightly steeper rake than many venues. The dance floor raised the dancing surface a few inches above the stage so that I wouldn’t have wanted to sit closer than row D or so and I’m 5’7”. The theater is inside the new shopping/amusement complex called “Hollywood and Highland” which even has its own metro stop (red line). The parking is underground and will run about $6-7 depending on when you get there ($1 per 20 minutes but I think you get a few minutes free). <BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited December 19, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2001 5:59 am 
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Thank you very much, Jeff, once again for a very insightful review. <P>Though I enjoyed the Baryshnikov/Kirkland ABT Nutcracker production very much, I did so because of the superb dancing. I really didn't care for the sub-plot of pseudo-psycho-sexual textures. Why ruin a dream? I can do that without paying for it.<P>I suppose I come from the school of "let Nutcracker be Nutcracker" and let the psycho stuff alone. That's just a personal opinion.<P>I see Nutcracker as a respite from the drama of the other classical ballets (and daily life); Swan Lake, Giselle, La Bayadere. For the holidays, I want a happy dream. Otherwise, we have the makings of a someone's nightmare.


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2001 8:08 am 
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Does anyone have comments on last night's appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno? The performers (although uncredited) appeared to be Angel Corella and Julie Kent, along with a small corps of butterflies....<p>[This message has been edited by Francis Timlin (edited December 20, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2001 10:34 pm 
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Just got back driving before the rains.<P>ABT “Nutcracker” at the Kodak Theater<BR>Thursday, December 20, 2001<P>Clara—Anne Milewski; Drosselmeyer—Guillame Graffin; Nutcracker Prince—Sean Stewart; Snow Queen—Anna Liceica; Sugar Plum Fairy—Paloma Herrera; Her Cavalier—Marcelo Gomes; Conductor—Charles Barker<P>On another viewing I understand better the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” quality of Kevin McKenzie’s “Nutcracker.” There is a moment after the Silverhouses have retired to bed and Drosselmeyer emerges from behind the Christmas tree. At that point, matters are a little creepy. Who is this man to come popping out from behind a tree at night? But, he waves his hand and fairies emerge from all corners of the Silverhouses’ living room. They are played by Kristi Boone, Alina Faye, Elizabeth Gaither, Adrienne Schulte, and Alissa Wassung. It is just like Oberon and the fairies in the final scene of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” And in Shakespearean manner, the stage is about to be swept into the realm of magic.<P>I still don’t “get” the unicorns. Help!<P>However, I do “get” Paloma Herrera and Marcelo Gomes. Ballet as pure glamour. I was wrong to say in another thread that “Nutcracker” is a star vehicle. Paloma and Marcelo appear for only a few minutes—maybe 8 or 10—but they get the most attention in that time. I was impressed with Marcelo Gomes’ partnering as I am with all male partnering at that level: secure, confident, strong, but with full attention to showing the ballerina as well as possible. Marcelo’s lifts appeared secure but both pliant and elegant—always it seems he holds Paloma up with only the tips of his fingers. His attention to the ballerina is exemplary. At times it looks as if he would like nothing more than to kiss her hair. But in that, the danseur only repeats onstage what is innate in the choreography—an almost fetishist attention to the beauty, glamour, and line of the ballerina. And, there is plenty of pure lines and fine forms with Paloma.<P>Basheva and “2 Left Feet”: I am with you both. “Nutcracker” has survived over a century without a lot of self-conscious psychoanalytical babble. But, dreams are what they are—child-like, happy, disturbing, prophetic…whatever, despite our intentions—that’s the nature of dream work—one person’s happy dreams are often another person’s nightmare.<P>Finally, a quick note about the magic of live theater. Despite mishaps like a shoe that went flying into the wings and the collapse of parts of the Act II Spring sets like dominoes, the company maintained their cool with nary a sweat like true professionals.<P>I am looking forward to a final viewing this upcoming weekend.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2001 5:53 am 
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....and I am looking forward to your next review, Jeff.


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2001 6:01 am 
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I forgot to ask, Jeff - what did you think of Paloma Herrera's dancing? Technically? Artistically?<P>A number of years ago I saw her dance Nutcracker with ABT. Actualy I saw the ABT's Nutcracker twice - two nights in a row. I had heard a lot about Herrera's technique so the second night I made up my mind to watch it not as entertainment, but as a critical ballet teacher. I whipped out my super-high powered binoculars (I was only sitting in about the tenth row) and spent the next couple of hours, watching every misstep, every mistake Ms. Paloma might make.<P>She didn't make any. Not one that I could detect. I checked out her 5th positions, both as preparations and as finishes - they were immaculate. I checked for bobbles of any kind, nope, none there either. I looked for hooked thumbs, splayed little fingers - nary a one. <P>And, even through the claustrophobic lens of the binoculars, she swept me away. Is she still dancing like that?


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2001 10:09 pm 
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To paraphrase one of my professors, Paloma Herrera kicks butt. As a non-dancer, I am unable to comment on any performer’s technical execution. Nonetheless, I am watching as carefully as I can and doing my best. From Row H (sans spyglasses), Paloma looks flawless. No little bobs or wobbles where even the smallest correction should be visible clear to the back of the house. I can’t assess how tight her fifth positions are, but I can see that her form and line look crystalline. The emphasis on clarity and legibility remind me of what Violette Verdy said about all the young dancers being greyhounds. Compared to some of the local Sugar Plums who seem to be saying ballet is fun and glamorous, Paloma’s Sugar Plum seems to be saying, ballet is Art and Big Business. Perhaps the easiest comparison takes its cue from the Marxist oriented critics: Paloma’s Sugar Plum Fairy is the kind that stands for multi-million dollar annual budgets and big accounting firms (Lutz & Carr) and big endowments.<P>But, I don’t mean to give the impression that Paloma is pandering some kind of game. Far from it. She is, after all, just a “hoofer” (Astaire’s preferred term) Did I see her close an unsupported pose in arabesque 0.1 sec earlier than originally intended due to being a slightly bit to the right? But to the extent to which she represents “ballet,” she means sitting at the big table playing for the highest kinds of artistic and monetary stakes. When I consider what is being suggested on another thread that the future of ballet is a smaller, leaner, less Petipa and Balanchine world, I consider bigger-than-life performers like Paloma Herrera and Julie Kent possibly our best bulwarks (and also Wendy Whelan, Maria Kowrowski, Tina Leblanc, Lorena Feijoo, Deanna Seay, and others). Actually, our best bulwark might be education and outreach, but that’s a subject for another thread.<P>O BTW dance theoretician, Selma Jeanne Cohen, had written an essay, “What does the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” mean?” in her 1982 book, “Next Week, Swan Lake: Reflections on Dance and Dances,” which should be mandatory reading for anybody interested in the aesthetic stakes of dance. She says something that touches upon one of the “Nutcracker” threads’ themes.<P>Selma Jeanne Cohen quotes Edwin Denby’s gentle insistence for a bit of pantomime during the course of an evening of ballet: “It gives the feeling of being back in a more familiar rational world, back safe from the flight through the intuitive and rhythmic world of irrational symbols and of the charming animals.”<P>Cohen: “If the meaning of the dance lies in the quality of the dancer’s movement, the meaning of the “Nutcracker” variations does not go very deep. Nothing wrong with that. Most of us would find a diet of constant dance sublimity rather too rich for our tastes, and we do find it pleasant on occasion to be reminded of some of those vanished virtues, if not dating back to the minuet then at least to the age of social that produced the Sugar Plum Fairy. That world of irrational symbols and charming animals! True, it lacks relevance to our daily lives, but aren’t we entitled to a little diversion? Or is it only diversion?”<P>SJC goes on to discuss “Swan Lake,” but I like how she identifies the purely entertainment value in ballet—something that should resonate with the national consciousness this particularly stress filled holiday season. O yes and speaking of “entertainment,” the ballet student movie, “Center Stage” seems to have made something of a lasting impression as more than once I heard among the audience surprised approval of its stars Julie Kent, Sasha Radetsky, and especially Ethan Stiefel. The future of ballet could use some more name recognition.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2001 6:42 am 
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...so she is still dancing like that. wow


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2001 10:55 pm 
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Saturday, 12/22<P>My reaction is far less analytical than previous -- it's the first time I've seen a live Nutcracker and the first time I've been to a performance since taking ballet.<P>The whole production had a sort of 'Disney' feel to it -- the set reminded me at moments of "It's A Small World" and the entire ballet seemed to be a collection of showy poses and moments rather than a cohesive whole. However. . . I still enjoyed it very much. The stars for me though, were the corps. I was really impressed with their cohesion, their beauty, and, perhaps most important, their ability to dance on a floor slick with snowflakes and keep it together. Their costumes in Waltz of the Flowers were exquisite. I was not incredibly impressed with Paloma Herrera -- she was, to my mind, a bit too divaesque and less than genuine. Her cavalier however, nailed a five revolution pirouette and stuck the landing. My jaw dropped. <P>I think what I loved most of all, was watching and being able to say to myself "sissone, faille, balance. . ." and so on -- recognizing steps that I know, that I can do (albeit badly!) and recognizing steps that are so hard, but look incredibly easy (hops on pointe in attitude devant).<P>Finally, I was sitting very close, and therefore got one really charming moment that most missed -- when Clara helped the little mice (a group of kids) with their cues by counting "seven, eight."


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