the danceview times
Volume 1, Number 10 December 1, 2003 An online supplement to DanceView magazine
A Whirlwind Nutcracker
Balanchine's The Nutcracker®
I was going
to start this review by noting that there are two long-awaited moments
in the first Nutcracker of the year which invariably bring a
smile of joy to my lips: the first sight of Rouben Ter-Arutunian's curtain,
with its airborne angel, and, even more, the appearance of the first Snowflake,
who seems to be saying it's finally time for the real dancing to start.
Then I realized I'd have to add the growing Christmas tree, poor Fritz
rescued from being a wallflower by his mother in the party scene, Dewdrop,
Candy Canes, and most of the ballet. So much for a brief, witty, lead;
there are too many cherished, familiar moments to single out two, or even
Reprinted from the Midweek Extra:
A Gala Opening, with Brilliant Dancing
is that the audience left this gala drunk on the performance of George
Balanchine’s Symphony in C, which, for the first time in
memories going back at least a decade, fielded four principal couples
who were more than adequate to their roles, a flock of demi-soloists who
danced with finesse and close attention to detail, and a superbly rehearsed
corps de ballet. Symphony in C—presented (with Concerto
Barocco and Orpheus) at the inaugural performance of the
New York City Ballet on October 11th, 1948—is debatably the cornerstone
of the New York City Ballet repertory: both a condensation and a summation
of Balanchine’s gifts and a monumental index to the full company’s
depth and range. A Karinska tutu ballet that, in this production, begins
with a squadron of 12 dancers at attention in fifth position and concludes
with a battalion of 50, photographically arrested at the crest of a rousing,
almost jazzily swinging march toward Georges Bizet’s top note, the
work stakes a powerful claim to just about every aspect of the classical
lexicon—adagio, allegro, jumps large and small, corkscrew turns
and smooth tours, transition steps and lifts—and, the ultimate program
closer, it wages what is debatably the most persuasive campaign on behalf
of classical dancing in the past 100 years. Even in uneven or indifferent
performances of it, the ballet advances toward a sense of triumph; it
is dancer-proof in that its individuals become subsumed in a larger whirlwind
of energy and choreographic design.
Mindy Aloff's Letter from New York will return in two weeks
The "scene" at the Opera House this year was not the huge Macy's-style array of chocolates and desserts, mummers and carolers thronging the passage-ways which made it a struggle to get to your seat back in the dot-com years. Opening night last Friday was well-attended, festive, and joyous, but strangely old-fashioned—not quite as exciting as recently, and with no first glimpses of new stars on the roster. But by the end of the evening, I found myself really liking it, thinking of it as "our show," and wondering if we're going to miss it when Helgi Tomasson's new production comes in next year.
is a big old-fashioned production, with a warm heart and the virtues of
the generation that won World War II. It's generous to the core, and it's
amazing to see how intricate it all is. The show's a miracle of logistics,
a marvellous contraption with many moving parts—each little bit
does its job, and the whole thing goes off like clockwork. Nutcracker
goes up a couple of times a day from now till New Year's. New dancers
will get worked in at the school shows (I first saw the fabulous Guennadi
Nedviguine at an 11 AM show, the house filled with children and old folks
and dancers.) It gets tooled up every year (a few lifts get changed, I
thought I detected new business for the itsy-bitsy child at the party
scene), but it's hardly changed since this production (the fourth) was
new in 1986—well, Jose Varona's designs were new in 1988. The show
is clearly the child of its predecessors, going back to Willam Christensen's
production which was unveiled Christmas Eve, 1944 (with Jocelyn Vollmar
as the Snow Queen and Gisella Caccialanza as the Sugar Plum Fairy).
A Revised St. Louis Woman, and the Return of Alicia Graf
Once a ballerina,
always a ballerina—or so it seemed when Alicia Graf swept onstage
as the "angel" figure in Serenade in her return to
Dance Theatre of Harlem after what her program bio calls a "four-year
hiatus." Her imposing presence, innate elegance and technical aplomb
were immediately apparent when she first surfaced as an 18-year-old in
such roles as the Siren in Prodigal Son, and she has lost none
of her allure while pursuing a history degree at Columbia and holding
several internships. She has a ways to go to gain back full strength;
she held the high arabesque, during which she is promenaded by an "invisible"
partner, beautifully, but her descent from it was not altogether smooth,
and there was a similarly muddied moment during the final "Elegie"
section. But she claimed the stage with that muted glamour and quiet sophistication
which make so many of DTH's women so special.
Exuberant, If Messy, Burlesque
its decidedly odd name didn’t deter a sizable audience from coming
two days before Thanksgiving for a show of loosely strung together and
joyously performed glimpses at dance and music in Africa and the Diaspora.
Still “Black Burlesque (revisited)”, Reggie Wilson’s
exuberant entertainment, on a one-night stop in the elegant new Mondavi
Center for the Arts on the UC Davis campus, deserved a larger audience.
The originality of its concept, the loving attention to detail and the
radiance of its twelve performers were something to be thankful for.
©2003 by DanceView