Review: Boston Ballet, The Nutcracker, Colonial Theatre, Boston, Saturday, Decmber 11.
As breathtaking as a moonlit winter evening, the Boston Ballet’s new Nutcracker, choreographed by Mikko Nissinen, yet banished winter’s chill and welcomed viewers into its well lit world.
Features traditional to this holiday favorite, such as the 19th century setting of a Christmas party in the Silberhaus household, the characters of Clara, Fritz, Drosselmeier, Mouse King, et al, and the pretext of a young person’s dream still inform Nissinen’s Nutcracker. But, its abundance of dancing, humor, and production values that were driven by a dreamer’s indifference to scale, time, and Newtonian mechanics blended to create a brisk and lighter Nutcracker.
The excitement inherent, for example, in the steady use of petite allegro, the jumps that signature Prodigal Son and La Sylphide, and the rolling rhythms of entrances and exits that continuously varied or exchanged the number of dancers on stage begot liveliness. Additionally, the studied avoidance of show stopping bravura lifts on moments where the music and tradition seem to solicit them kept the momentum of this Nutcracker brisk. This stance toward the music freed, for example,the wind swept snow scene from encumbering drifts.
Yet, the Act II divertissement, such as in Tea, Russian, the Waltz of the Flowers, and the Sugar pas provided the ‘turn counters’ in the audience opportunities to exercise their want. Always restrained, however, save for the trio of dancers performing Russian, the spectacular a la second or fouette turns preformed in Tea or by the Dew Drop Friary or the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier nevertheless ended before their art became an act.
This choreographic sense of scale and proportion, however, contrasted neatly with the gigantic snowflakes that hung (two of them spinning!) from the flies or the Christmas tree that grew so large that it consumed the full depth and breadth of the fly space. And, if the colossal size of the tree and snowflakes, for example, reflect the fancy of Clara’s dream, what was one to make of the oversize ante-room doors- doors with fixtures so high that even the Governess to Clara and Fritz would have to stretch up to reach them? Practically, one thinks that the scale of the doors and its fixtures meant to reflect the world as seen from a wide-awake young person’s point of view. Imaginatively, however, one takes the size of the door along with Clara’s Alice in Wonderland look alike costume, Drosselmeier’s White Rabbit-like obsession with time (his workshop is a transparent timepiece complete with moving gears), and the sudden disappearance of the whole ante-room, which instantly drew the party scene guests, and the audience, into the Silberhaus parlor, to hint that all of this Nutcracker is a marvelous dream.
And marvelous too was the young dancer in the Saturday evening performance, who weighted by her mouse costume nevertheless spun in the air on a turn in the music every time with an ease and authority that betrayed her age. In fact, whether it was the youngest of students or an ‘old hand’ in ballet, both the matinee and evening casts shined so bright that only one’s age said that it was night.
<small>[ 18 December 2004, 04:41 AM: Message edited by: S. E. Arnold ]</small>