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 Post subject: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:01 am 
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Paul Citron’s reviews Toronto’s favorite Nut:

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Apparently this run of The Nutcracker represents 500 times that Geddes (an original company member) has performed the ballet – that's not actual performances which must be in the thousands, but just sheer number of productions. She is currently the National's pointe shoe manager and an assistant ballet mistress, but she can still take to the stage and give the kindly nurse Baba warmth and vigour.

Geddes, in fact, represents what the world of ballet is all about. The art form rests both on continuity as well as creation.

No matter what version, The Nutcracker remains one of the great classics in dance.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 5:54 pm 
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It's called The National Ballet of CANADA :shock:

Could someone please change the title of this thread. Thanks


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:22 pm 
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Done. I think the original thread title was an inside joke by the initiator of the thread. :)-


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 7:04 pm 
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Guilty as charged! Click HERE for info about various Nutcrackers playing in the Toronto area.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:36 pm 
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Everybody is NUTS for Mr. K’s Nutcracker! :D

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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 8:41 pm 
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Quick first thoughts from the opening of the 2009 Nutcracker

The NBoC production is delightfully lavish in costumes and set, but weaker in storyline. Set in late 19th C Russia, it's full of deep hues and a set that is one of the best I've seen for any production in some time. Most of the first act takes place in a courtyard outside the home of the main family, and it feels at once authentic, cozy and three dimensional without sacrificing space for the story or the dance. The second act is a little overwhelmed by the Sugar Plum fairy's Faberge egg, but also very pretty.

It's unfortunate that the story gets a bit of a short shrift, and that Kudelka's choreography is a little unmusically unsatisfying at times. Given that the story is all about a Nutcracker, the title character gets little face time Act 1. We never get to see the little girl falling in love with her Nutcracker, and the connection between the toy nutcracker, Drosselmeyer and the living nutcracker is all but lost. The ballet is one of the few that is truly for the kids, and it didn't seem to have the magic that grabs the kids attention. The roller skating bear is very cool, and little rats are adorable, but the flashes in the battle scene seemed to frighten the kid in front of me and served little purpose (i.e. to distract the eye in order to have a character magically appear or disappear). In some ways it's more of an adult Nutcracker.

Aleksandar Antonejevic was the stable hand who becomes the Nutcracker, and though he's losing a bit of snap (his Russian dance bit was very underpowered), I can't see anyone creating a more endearing, heartwarming character. He truly seemed to enjoy working with the child dancers, and his mime is clear and fluid. He also was beautifully matched with Sonia Rodriguez with nary a wobble in their pas de deux, though I've never seen a more mismatched set of costumes.

Fun abounds in the first act, with lots of character dance, a roller skating bear, a dancing horse and lots of good cheer. Oh, and scuttling rat who gets trapped, at least for a while. There's a lot more real dance than in many productions, which is a pleasant change when one has sat through years of dance-lite Act Ones.

The chess set come to life in the battle scene was very clever, though again the story of the Nutcracker got lost in the delightful chaos. And I thought it muddled the story to have both siblings make the magical journey - normally it's Clara/Marie who saves the Nutcracker, thus gets to go see the Land of the Sugarplums and finally get to free the Nutcracker from his wooden persona.

The spanish dancers were wonderful, as were the flowers and the Arabian dancers. It seems that the Dewdrop has become a bumblebee, and I found this one of the weaker bits. It wasn't the dancing, but the choreography - which I think is part original, part Kudelka seems overly fast and at odds with the music. This battle of of ballet and music continued with the grand pas deux, which (again I think was mostly Kudelka), seemed to have little relation to the music and completely ignored the musical crescendos. Antonijevic and Rodriguez were picture perfect, but weren't given much inspiring choreography to tackle.

All the children were wonderful, particularly the little brother and sister who have a lot of dancing in both acts.

Overall, I think this is a Nutcracker well worth seeing - truly something to put you in a festive spirit, but it's not for the youngest kids (a little scary with the flashes and hard to follow the story). It's to be enjoyed for the lavishness, and the sparkling dancing of the NBoC, not stunning choreography or storyline.


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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:53 am 
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An unaccredited critic in the Star reviews the National’s Nut. The Toronto Sun also chimes in.

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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:12 am 
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Thank you for the review, Kate.

But just a note. Act I is actually set in a BARN! Kudelka grew up on a farm near Newmarket, so this was his nod to his childhood. Perhaps the scenery makes more sense knowing this, the straw bales the kids romp on, the rat, the horse, etc. You can see the house lit up in the distance. You can aslo see out through the big barn doors to kids having a snowball fight outside.


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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:32 am 
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Quote:
We never get to see the little girl falling in love with her Nutcracker, and the connection between the toy nutcracker, Drosselmeyer and the living nutcracker is all but lost.


I agree, this aspect of the story is really not there.

I do love this production, though. The sets and most of the costumes are lovely, with the glaring exception of the pink/gold Arabian numbers, which are just incredibly ugly and unflattering, IMO. My favourite segment is the snow queen portion. The blue set with the falling snow is just magical and gorgeous and I love the dancing. While the opening scenes at the barn are enjoyable, it's when the snow queen arrives that the ballet comes alive for me. Tanya Howard was lovely as the queen on Saturday afternoon.


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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:22 pm 
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Michael Crabb wrote the review for The Star. (His name is in much smaller type flush right on on the same line as the review headline and easily overlooked.)

John Coulbourne wrote the review for The Sun.


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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:20 pm 
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Sorry - that was the long day in Toronto doing me in... I was thinking of a courtyard in terms of the area between a house and a barn. Here is my full review, written with a less foggy mind :o)

Though signs of the recent snowstorm were far and few between in downtown Toronto, the flakes flew on the stage of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. In its fourteenth year, James Kudelka’s production of ‘The Nutcracker” continues to entertain Torontonian audiences. Set in tsarist Russia, this version of the holiday classic is memorable for Santo Loquasto’s glorious designs and the sparkling performances of the NBoC dancers and NBS students. The spectacle of the deeply hued costumes, and the infectious warmth of the dancing is more than to enough to overcome the weak storyline and Kudelka’s rather unmusical choreography.
The ballet opens in the barn of a Russian family, the two children (Marie and Misha), their stable boy friend (Peter), parents and neighbors enjoying a festive Christmas party. The evening’s entertainment is provided by the children’s slightly batty Uncle Nikolai, acted and danced with zest by the unrecognizable Noah Long. The barn set felt at once authentic and cozy, the layers of set pieces combining to create the illusion of three dimensions without sacrificing space for the story or the dance. Loquasto’s design magic continues after the intermission with a lavish setting for the Sugar Plum Fairy’s kingdom, though the stage is a bit overwhelmed by the Sugar Plum Fairy's Faberge egg.
Fun abounds in the first two acts, with lots of Russian-esque character dance, a roller skating bear partnerning a very chubby be-tutued bear en point, a dancing horse and lots of good cheer. The festivity is only slightly disturbed by the scuttling rat that gets trapped, at least for a while. Later than night, Marie and Misha begin their magical adventure when the rat – and many of its friends - return for a colorful battle complete with a living chess set, and a subsequent trip to the Land of Snow.
Kudelka packs a lot of dancing into the first half of the ballet, which is a nice change from productions that spend most of their time plodding through the story. Yet, the dancing comes at the expense of the story, which gets lost in the colorful chaos. The major issue is that the title character – the Nutcracker – gets almost no face time in the party scene, so we never appreciate the connection between Marie & her Nutcracker, and thus the real world and the dream world. It becomes more a story of a magical dream, rather than a story about a Nutcracker. Kudelka also misses some opportunities to create more onstage drama – the Nutcracker’s transition from toy to living Prince (aka Peter) is very pedestrian, and the explosive flashes in the battle scene didn’t seem to be distracting the eye from anything, but the did seem to scare the little kid sitting in front of me.
Kudelka’s choreographic weaknesses were most obvious in the last act, particularly in the rather frenetic solo for the bumblebee (another less than stunning costume), and a very disappointing Grand Pas de Deux. Rodriguez and Antonijevic were flawless, with nary a finger out of place, but weren’t given very inspiring choreography to tackle. Tchaikovsky’s score for the Grand Pas de Deux soars, but Kudelka’s choreography seemrd to work against the music, and eschewing the traditional opening-solo-solo-codas-finale arrangement, lacked a coherent flow. There were stunning moments – a high lift that was perfectly entered and balanced, spot on supported pirouettes – but the whole was disappointing.
One however, could find absolutely no fault in the dancing. Aleksandar Antonijevic was Peter, the stable boy who becomes the Nutcracker. Though Antonijevic’s bravura dancing is losing power (his Russian dance seemed to lag behind the music), it would be hard to imagine any other dancer creating a more endearing, heartwarming character. He truly seemed to enjoy working with the child dancers, adding nuance to the character with fluid mime. Antonijevic also was beautifully matched with his Sugar Plum Fairy, the regal Sonia Rodriguez, with nary a wobble in their pas de deux. (Though Loquasto’s talents seem to have failed him in the grand pas deux as the costumes were noticeably mismatched).
Rodriguez, for her part, has sailed through her 20th season with NBoC with spotless technique enhanced by mature artistry
Megan Storm Hill and Sebastian Lecomte were delightful as Marie and Misha, ably tackling the extensive mime and dance demanded of the young leads. Noah Long nearly stole the show as the dynamic, leaping Uncle Nikolai, his long coats constantly awhirl. Also of note was Etienne Lavigne as the father and the Spanish Chocolate quintet (Marissa Parzei, Jordana Daumec, Christopher Stalzer, Elena Lobsanova and Naoya Ebe).

Choreographic weaknesses aside, this is a Nutcracker that leaves you warm and fuzzy, with lots of holiday good cheer. Hopefully the Toronto weather will cooperate and contribute some real flakes to the festivities!


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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:58 pm 
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Dana Glassman reviews "The Nutcracker" in the National Post.

National Post


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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:28 am 
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Check out Task Master Rex Harrington putting the Canon Dolls through their paces to prep for their Nutcracker performance!

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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:42 pm 
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Casting has been released for the NBoC’s 2010 Nut. You can also check out a preview video.

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 Post subject: Re: National Ballet of Canada Nutcracker
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:59 am 
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Now Mag talks to Double A about the Nutcracker.

Quote:
“It seems all nice and wintry and cozy, but it’s as difficult as any ballet,” says principal dancer Aleksandar Antonijevic, who performed in the family-friendly show that first year and pretty much every season since.

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