CriticalDance Forum

National Ballet of Canada – 2005 Nutcracker
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Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Dec 10, 2005 9:15 am ]
Post subject:  National Ballet of Canada – 2005 Nutcracker

Click HERE for Nutcracker casting and HERE for more info. [url=]
You can also read my review of the NBoC’s 2004 Nutcracker.[/url]

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Mon Dec 12, 2005 8:40 pm ]
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The reviews are in and as usual the critics are just ‘nuts’ about Mr. K’s Nutcracker!

“What can one say about principal dancer Rodriguez except perfect. From the moment she arrived in the company, she has never disappointed. Her attack is crisp, her technique immaculate, and her phrasing is one of legato grace. Rodriguez managed to show off every little detail of Kudelka's intricate footwork without interrupting the lyrical flow.”

No doubt Paula Citron will breathe a sigh of relief when she reads that I am in total agreement with the below statement:

“Snow Queen Tanya Howard, currently a second soloist, has to be the next major star with her gorgeous legs, beautiful arms and sublime musicality.”

My review of Tanya Howard’s performance last year:

The Snow Queen (the lovely Tanya Howard) greets Misha and Marie supported by her two icicles (Keeichi Hirano and Avinoam Silverman). Once again, Kudelka reaches into his antique toy chest to play a little spin top unfurling a plethora of Spintastics Blizzards to whip up a swirling storm of snowflakes! Musical notes flow from Tanya Howard as she bourées across the stage and delivers one perfect mini jeté after another, her arms most expressive throughout. At one point she’s whisked off the stage in a spellbinding upside down lift.

Susan Walker was likewise wowed by the National’s Nutcracker:

Heather Ogden's performance recalled the naturalism of Martine Lamy, who was Kudelka's first Sugar Plum Fairy. Once out of her giant Fabergé egg, she is a gorgeous ballerina to Côté's passionate Nutcracker. Their pas de deux was not flawless, yet such well-matched, airborne partners bring this old fairy tale very much alive.

The National Post decided to promote the NBoC through a feature piece about Snow Queen Jennifer Fournier and motherhood. Sadly, the article is only available to subscribers (preferably those who are members in good standing with the Conservative party)!

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:06 pm ]
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Mr. K’s Nutcracker has accomplished the impossible: It melted the heart ofGrinch Critic John Coulbourn!

“It is a voyage that gives the company a chance to showcase the richness and depth of its talent, from the wonderful maternal charm with which Victoria Bertram continues to endow the roles of Baba and the Empress Dowager, to the effortless grace and whimsy of performers like Andreea Olteanu, Daisuke Ohno and Stacey Shiori Minagawa bring to characters like a sheep, a fox and a bee respectively.

Sadly, dance is an art form where artists shine only briefly, but as those artists come and go, it is comforting to know that you are never too young or too old to be charmed by The Nutcracker, where memories seem to dance forever.”

Michael Crabb boasts that
“You’ll go bananas for these Sugar Plums!”
Unfortunately, the review is only available for paying subsrcibers at the National Post:

“Elegantly poised, Ogden could have been mistaken for an exquisite china doll but when she stepped out onto the stage to dance a demanding opening variation she was transformed into a radiant image of fantastical womanhood. And my, how she danced! Ogden has that indefinable quality of authority that makes her a cool, commanding presence but her dancing is also full of the kind of youthful daring that keeps you on the edge of your seat. She does not hold back.

While there is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Crabb’s review was accurate, I do wish he would allow his muse to inspire him the way Heather Ogden inspires with her dance:

“Emerging from a Fabergé egg encrusted in gold we have our dream come true, the exquisitely winsome Heather Ogden. To the celestial tinkling of the harp and celesta, she glissades over the stage in a series of very precise piqué turns. Miss Ogden’s sylphidine beauty left everyone starry-eyed; our imaginations of Sugar Plum Fairies having been fulfilled beyond our collective mind’s eye.”

Of course, not everyone can whip up prose like Michael Goldbarth! A few more glowing reviews from Michael Crabb and he may earn membership into Heather Ogden’s Fan Club! It appears that Michael Goldbarth and Michael Crabb see eye-to-eye when it comes to the talent of Miss Ogden!

“Jewel of a Ballerina!

Of all the glittering jewels gracing the stage for Thursday’s afternoon delight one sparkled more than any emerald, ruby, or even diamond could ever hope to sparkle. Call me another (happy) victim of ballerina magnetism but this precious gem boasts the glowing face and beaming body of which National Ballet of Canada dreams are made on! Mere prose cannot do justice to the delicious images she created on stage. This is one ballerina who knows how to shine and isn’t afraid to face the music and dance: Every step was imbued with spontaneity; every moment on stage was danced as if it was her last; every eye in the house was glued to her as the come-hither ruby in Jewels. She danced en pointe as if Sir Isaac Newton’s silly theories of gravity applied to her-NOT! She held nothing back.

Unlike Tristan and Isolde, Jewels lives up to the National Ballet of Canada’s cheeky tagline, ‘Come to the Ballet!’ Those fortunate enough to be retired, playing hooky from work or school were treated to undulating hips, dizzying pirouettes, bedroom eyes glancing skywards, sassy high kicks, flirtatious skipping with imaginary rope, and jazzy moves galore. These goo-goo eyes were glued from seat A 28. Sneaking a close up glance with opera glasses is one of my many, many guilty pleasures. What my mind’s eye witnessed was poetry in motion, a ballerina siren putting it all together: theatrical persona, dance technique, plus musicality. Triple wow!!! This ruby absolutely glowed surrendering body and spirit to the choreography of Mr. B as she danced the music of Stravinsky to life! Not even Aurora Borealis could match the steps of this dancing delight! The jewel of my eye was a ballerina goddess with the very poetic name of Heather Ogden. ”

Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sat Dec 24, 2005 12:49 pm ]
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Alison Gzowski has obviously benefited from her late father’s writing genes! Click HERE for a moving story about a child’s first Nutcracker.

She did agree to climb on to my lap. As the lights went down, in that moment of darkness and silence before the overture begins, a lone voice from somewhere near the front called out, "Mommy, I can't see!"

Everyone laughed. It was the perfect tension-releaser, a welcome moment of relief as many of us braced ourselves for the crapshoot: Will my charge sit still for two hours of ballet? Or will I be the one dealing with a restless, loudly complaining child?

Author:  mom2 [ Sun Dec 25, 2005 12:27 pm ]
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I saw the article in the Globe yesterday as well. The acompanying photos of Sonia Rodriguez with the little girl were absolutely priceless.

For those of you who don't have access to the Globe and Mail, picture the Sugar Plum Fairy in full costume, complete with tiara, crouching down to be at eye level with the most precious of 2 year olds and even tickling the belly of the babe (literally)! The second photo is of Rodriguez beaming with delight at the reaction of her newest fan.

The article itself was nice too - but more about Christmas traditions generally than ballet specifically. Quite touching, actually. The writer has my vote for auntie of the year!

Happy holidays to all!


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