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 Volume 1, Number 10   December 1, 2003            An online supplement to DanceView magazine

A Whirlwind Nutcracker

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®
New York City Ballet
New York State Theater
New York, NY
November 28, 2003

by Eric Taub
copyright © 2003 by Eric Taub

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 a handful.
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Reprinted from the Midweek Extra:

A Gala Opening, with Brilliant Dancing

Serenade/Bugaku/Symphony in C
Gala, Balanchine 100: The Centennial Celebration
New York State Theater
New York, NY
November 25, 2003

by  Mindy Aloff
copyright ©2003 by Mindy Aloff

The news 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.
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Mindy Aloff's Letter from New York will return in two weeks

past Letters from New York


Happy as Snow
— A Joyous Nutcracker Opening

San  Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Opera House
San Francisco, California
November 28, 2003

By Paul Parish
Copyright ©2003 by Paul Parish

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.

Our Nutcracker 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).
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A Revised St. Louis Woman, and the Return of Alicia Graf

Serenade/St. Louis Woman
Dance Theatre of Harlem
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Newark, NJ
November 29, 2003

By Susan Reiter
copyright © 2003 by Susan Reiter

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.
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Exuberant, If Messy, Burlesque

Black Burlesque (revisited)
Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center
For the Performing Arts, Davis
November 25
, 2003

by Rita Felciano
copyright ©2003 by Rita Felciano

Fortunately 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.
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This weeks' articles


Mindy  Aloff's Letter from New York

The Balanchine Celebration
New York City Ballet:
A Veteran and a Raw Recruit
by Mindy Aloff

Heart and Soul
by Mary Cargill

Kid Stuff
Cas Public's If You Go Down To the Woods Today
by Susan Reiter

San Francisco Ballet:
New Wheeldon (Rush)
by Rita Felciano

New Tomasson (7 For Eight)
by Paul Parish

Possokhov's New Firebird for OBT
by Rita Felciano

Moscow Festival Ballet and Scott Wells
by Paul Parish

Hamburg Ballet's Nijinsky:
Nijinsky—Lost in the Chaos
by Clare Croft

NijinskyMadness and Metaphor
by Alexandra Tomalonis

Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes
by George Jackson

Batsheva: Breaking Down Walls
by Lisa Traiger

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence
by Clare Croft

Choreographers Showcase
by Tehreema Mitha

Zoltan Nagy
by George Jackson






Mindy Aloff
Dale Brauner
Mary Cargill
Clare Croft
Nancy Dalva
Rita Felciano
Lynn Garafola
Marc Haegeman
George Jackson
Gia Kourlas
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Jean Battey Lewis
Alexander Meinertz
Tehreema Mitha
Gay Morris
Ann Murphy
Paul Parish
Susan Reiter
Jane Simpson
Alexandra Tomalonis(Editor)
Lisa Traiger
Meital Waibsnaider

Leigh Witchel


The Autumn DanceView is out:

New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season reviewed by Gia Kourlas

An interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko by Marc Haegeman

Reviews of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano) and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)

The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan Opera (by Elaine Machleder)

Reports from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).

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last updated on November 24, 2003 -->