Posted on January 13, 2022
Above: Indiana Woodward in New York Metropolis Ballet’s manufacturing of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Photograph by Erin Baiano.
Relaying information from New York within the January challenge of Dancing Occasions, Leigh Witchel wrote that “New York Metropolis Ballet has executed the identical model of The Nutcracker since 1954,” however as a result of “there have been no main debuts throughout opening week,” there was “nothing to report” about it. Because it occurred, that previous manufacturing made headlines this yr, with good motive.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is as a lot part of Christmas in New York as Rockefeller Middle’s towering Christmas tree, which was first erected in 1933 as “a vacation beacon for New Yorkers and guests alike.” Largely unchanged however for brand spanking new décor and lighting designed by Rouben Ter-Arutunian in 1964, Balanchine’s manufacturing includes greater than 100 kids, not as window dressing however as dancers who painting kids, mice, toy troopers, angels, sweet canes and polichinelles, the inhabitants of Mom Ginger’s capacious skirt.
In 2020, to the dismay of 1000’s, the coronavirus successfully cancelled the annual return of this favorite, which had by no means missed a Christmas look in its lengthy historical past. Decided to stop one other cancellation this yr, the corporate needed to overcome a raft of issues. Initially, younger kids weren’t being vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 when rehearsals started within the autumn, so the 12-year-olds who had at all times been deemed too previous for the kids’s roles grew to become the youngest performers allowed to bop them.
Images: 1-2 – The Social gathering Scene in New York Metropolis Ballet’s The Nutcracker. 3 – Waltz of the Flowers. Images by Erin Baiano.
The peak requirement modified too. With a purpose to go well with each the characters and the costumes, kids couldn’t ordinarily be solid in the event that they have been taller than about 5 foot one inch in top. Now, filling the various roles took priority over filling the prevailing costumes, so youngsters have been chosen, some as tall as 5 foot seven inches. Although the kids historically come from the Faculty of American Ballet, auditions this yr, for the primary time, prolonged to 6 different skilled coaching faculties in Manhattan, together with these affiliated with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispánico and Dance Theatre of Harlem.
To place a secure restrict on the numbers of individuals, the traditional troupe of 126 kids shrank to 74, divided into two casts with most individuals taking part in two roles. To decorate everybody, practically 130 new costumes needed to be constructed from scratch – the price range ultimately reached about $375,000. The brand new outfits have been naturally bigger than these they changed as a result of they needed to match older kids; the replacements have been additionally constructed to be simply adjusted for future casts of varied sizes.
This Nutcracker wasn’t the one vacation present on the town, and even the one Nutcracker. For younger kids, New York Theatre Ballet offered a small solid in a one-hour staging to recorded music. The Brooklyn Nutcracker featured a popping and locking Drosselmeyer and a hip hop battle, and Firm XIV’s subtle model embraced components of burlesque, circus and drag.
Images: 1 – Indiana Woodward and Anthony Huxley in Act II of New York Metropolis Ballet’s The Nutcracker. 2 – Megan Fairchild and Firm in Waltz of the Flowers. 3 – Roman Mejia within the Sweet Cane dance. Images by Erin Baiano.
But the color, enjoyable, thriller and classical dancing in Balanchine’s interpretation nonetheless weave irresistible magic, and the nearly-full home welcomed the efficiency I attended with cheers. In it, I found Emma Von Enck, a corps de ballet member who led the divertissement for Marzipan Shepherdesses with appeal and musicality that can certainly win her extra vital roles.
Having struck up a dialog in the course of the interval, a younger man instructed me as we left our seats that he knew the music properly however had by no means seen any dancing set to it. “I’ll come again,” he stated. “Now I wish to see one thing else.” Isn’t that what each firm hopes to listen to?
PS. It was nice whereas it lasted. After I left New York in mid-December, the virus pressured New York Metropolis Ballet to cancel 17 performances of The Nutcracker. On January 7 the corporate introduced a nine-day delay to the opening of its winter season and a slight change in its repertoire. Powerful instances nonetheless lie forward.