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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2001 6:04 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Thank you for the review, Ma.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The stars for me though, were the corps. I was really impressed with their cohesion, their beauty, and....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>For me, that is how I ultimately judge a company, not by the principals/stars, but by the cohesion, quality and beauty of the corps de ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2001 11:17 pm 
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
My final gander at this season’s ABT’s “Nutcracker.”<P>American Ballet Theater “Nutcracker” 12/23/01 matinee<P>Clara--??; Drosselmeyer—Guillam Graffin; Nutcracker Prince—Gennadi Savaliev; Sugar Plum Fairy—Julie Kent; Her Cavalier—Angel Corella<P>Unfortunately, my cast list for the Sunday matinee performance fell victim to the ritual tidying up before holiday guests. I wish I could remember who danced Clara. This Clara seemed calmer, less hyper than the earlier Clara’s—aiming less for a star making performance than for emotional and narrative clarity. Though of all the Clara’s I saw, Xiomara Reyes is my personal favorite for sheer charm.<P>Since this thread has already hen-pecked/nit-picked away at this production, I’ll try and limit myself. At the beginning of Act I Fritz brings a lamp onstage and he and Clara make shadow puppets against the wall. I like this as a clever way to sneak a bit of modern self-reflexivity, the “play-within-the-play.” In many productions, this function is performed by a puppet show managed by Drosselmeyer. But, the shadow puppet show suggests that in this production, it is the action behind the scenes that accounts for the magic, whether it is the training, dedication, and rehearsal of the dancers that precedes a tour, the choreographers responsible for the steps, the crew responsible for the stage transformations and stage mechanics, or the team responsible for the production values. I also wonder about the struggle between Fritz and Clara for dominance of the shadow puppet theater—is there an insider’s story there?<P>When the Chubby Boy steps and breaks the Nutcracker Toy, it isn’t Drosselmeyer who fixes the toy. It is Clara. While Drosselmeyer seems to hover on the edge of a psychotic break—cradling and talking to the toy—Clara finds some doll friends to help heal the broken toy. Who better to mend a soldier doll than a nurse doll? A brilliant insight into the preternatural logic of toy metaphysics.<P>I give full credit to all the Clara’s for doing their best with the Nutcracker “Transformation” pdd, especially the sequences before the mask comes off to reveal the hunky danseur within. Didn’t it seem strange or to stretch our willing suspension of disbelief to credit any young girl with finding that life size Nutcracker Toy lovable? Yes, there was Gennadi Savaliev inside there, but with that mask on he looks like something likely to traumatize a young girl. In this production as in many, the Nutcracker Toy doesn’t look anything like a healthy specimen of romantic, soldierly manhood. With that shock of white beard and hair, those big hollow eyes, and especially those rows of bared teeth (the rictus-stretched grin of the skull), the Nutcracker Toy looks more like a “momento mori” than a man. I’m talking a death’s head skull in a soldier’s uniform. And, what sort of soldier is the Nutcracker Prince? The uniform places him in the 17nth century, Thirty Year’s War vintage. Now, I’m talking Mansfield and Tilly at the White Mountain, the sack of Magdeburg, the destruction of the Palatinate, etc. What I’m getting at is that the pre-transformation Nutcracker Prince is from a far different army than the hopelessly romantic and pathetic Steadfast Tin Soldier.<P>“ma” and Basheva are right about the corps. Breathtaking. Ballet blanc is ultimately the corps’ ballet. The corps make or break the ballet blanc, or any production overall. The choreographer for the Waltz of the Snow section, John Meehan, seems to have endorsed yet failed this basic insight. Short passages find the corps arranged for sculptural poses in small groups. Meehan develops these groupings for a few bars at a time—they swirl around the stage like snow caught in drifts making patterns. Yet, it seems like almost too much choreographic development, and this is why the Snow sections seems cluttered—like seeing snow and rain falling together. The local productions’ choreography seems cleaner because simpler.<P>Finally, I figured out what was really missing from ABT’s Kodak appearance—the commercial angle. It seems—O I don’t know—somehow un-American if Christmas doesn’t have some sort of product tie-in. If they had been selling repro’s of Drosselmeyer’s Sugar Plum Doll or Unicorn Doll, I probably would have bought them out of a sense of obligation to the performance (and to ingratiate myself with my ballet friend(s) ). And, what about the obligatory “photo” op with a Snow Flake? I used to find watching these endlessly amusing.<p>[This message has been edited by Jeff (edited December 26, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2001 5:35 am 
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Oh - let's hen peck and nit pick some more - it's one of the joys of life - Image<P>That's an interesting question you raise, Jeff, about Clara's attraction toward the Nutcracker-as-doll. He is indeed rather ugly and even repelling. But sometimes a young girl (I speak from distant memory) is drawn to just such ugliness. His physical unworthyness of love, compels it. <P>It is to some extent the basis of the female heart. She wishes to offer solace - she is the incipient mother. As the male is drawn to beauty - she can be drawn to his very need for love, regardless of his ugliness. And he stands in wonder at it.<P>When this ugly child turns into a handsome prince - well, now the other side of the female response is awakened. That is the crux of the entire story, I believe.<P>It is that capacity (sometimes foolish) of the female that enables Odette to forgive Siefried, and Giselle to comfort Albrecht. It's a recurring theme. We wonder at this capacity for foolishness - and yet it is that wonder that makes us celebrate it. It is this offering of the forgiving love of the female that is one of the redeeming qualities of our species.<P>Ask any young girl why she is showers love on an ugly doll. She may not be able to tell you - but she completes her task anyway.<P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2002 2:22 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
I can't even begin to say how impressed I am:

Quote:
Teen to dance 'Nutcracker' with ballet star

Bob Ivry, NorthJersey.com

It's only an early rehearsal for a Rockland Youth Dance Ensemble performance of "The Nutcracker," one of hundreds of such productions across the country. But Brittany, a freshman at Northern Highlands High School, can be forgiven her attack of butterflies. Her recovery of poise, as perceptible as the emergence of a butterfly, can be explained, too. She's dancing the show's big finale, the Grand Pas de Deux, with Ethan Stiefel, a 29-year-old principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre whom some consider the best male ballet dancer in the world.
more

[edit: Dear Moderators, I couldn't figure out where to put this last night, but this morning I think a more appropriate place might be the "who would you like to dance with??" thread in Fun Stuff. So at your convenience, would you mind moving this over there? Thanks.]

<small>[ 12-13-2002, 13:32: Message edited by: Andre Yew ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: ABT 'Nutcracker'
PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 9:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Reaching new heights
St. Petersburg dancer Veronika Part is the latest in a strong group of soloists at American Ballet Theatre.


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By LAURA BLEIBERG
The Orange County Register

Ballerina Veronika Part with American Ballet Theater will make her debut as the Suger Plum Fairy in the company's production of The Nutcracker coming to the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

'I saw her dance the Lilac Fairy with the Kirov three years ago. While everyone else may have been focused on the ballerinas, I was riveted by her presence and wondered, 'Who is THAT girl?'"

- Kevin McKenzie, artistic director, American Ballet Theatre

Veronika Part is that girl (with apologies to Marlo Thomas).

When McKenzie saw her at New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 1999, Part was a 21-year-old soloist-with-promise at the Kirov Ballet, aka the Maryinsky Ballet. McKenzie remembered Part, and he eventually offered her a position. In August, Part joined American Ballet Theatre as a soloist, still promising great things.
MORE...

<small>[ 12-18-2002, 10:34: Message edited by: 2 left feet ]</small>


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