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NYCB: Balanchine's Nutcracker in cinemas


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We've missed the first UK showing of this performance by New York City Ballet, recorded a week or two back, in many cinemas, but there are still showings on the 27th and some other dates. Details of participating cinemas are here: http://cinestage.omniversevision.com/2011/11/new-york-city-ballet/

In the UK, they are Showcase, Odeon, Vue and Empire cinemas. The link also gives details for Germany, Austria, Australia, Spain, Portugal and Iceland.

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What a joy this was. Such a shame that the cinema (Islington Vue) was so empty. Still, I hope NYCB do more broadcasts. This was beautifully handled and, for my money, remains the best production of this seminal masterwork; one that truly brings out the wonder of the child in us all. How spectacular this must have seemed in the 1950s. How wonderful that NYCB had the courage to maintain that magic. It certainly doesn't need dressing up ... To my mind there is nothing to match the speed of the 2nd act choreography and how wonderful to see young children REALLY dance. Tiller Peck and Ashley Bouder are both inspired ... and how I loved Balanchine's description of the 'christmas tree' as being 'the ballerina of the first act'. How apt. What a thrill.

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I saw it at Westfield and loved it, though not quite so uncritically as Meunier - I found some of the ensemble dances slightly ragged and not properly synchronised. But this is nitpicking - the dancing generally was terrific, and I loved Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz in the grand pas de deux - their dancing was simply breathtaking, and de Luz must be one of the most attentive partners in the world, an object lesson in how to do it. In the absence of cast sheets, sadly, I couldn't tell who the soloists were and would have loved to have been able to identify Ashley Bouder in particular (the credits whizzed by too fast to have been any use). I agree with Meunier about the children's dancing - they had been given proper choreography and performed the steps with impressive professionalism.

 

Oh, and incidentally I was petrified throughout the snowflakes lovely number by the sight of the bouquet of white pompoms accidentally dropped by one of the dancers - the choreography allowed no opportunity for it to be 'kicked into touch' - the usual procedure in cases like this - and it seemd to be waiting to bring someone down. It didn't happen, thankfully, but it certainly added a few shivers to the snowy scene.

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Ashley Bouder was the Dewdrop Fairy. Exquisite.

 

One thing I did like is that they introduced at the very opening each dancer (including the solosists) with not only a picture of them in character, but an even larger picture of them in 'real life'. A very nice, humanising touch. Therefore, I didn't mind so much the - as always - rapid credits zooming past at the end.

 

I only wished they had announced MORE broadcasts of the regular NYCB rep programmes. How I long for Balanchine's Brahms-Schoenburg ... especially the last act.... but I realise that would be unknown here ... Even after all this time like so much ... Still, you have to start somewhere, huh.

 

Oh, and while we are at it ... a tad more Sara Mearns!

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I have to say, I was very disappointed in the filming of this transmission: I know it was a first attempt, but there are plenty of ballet DVDs out there which would give a good idea of how it can be done. The cameras zoomed in so close that we suffered an awful lot of chopped off tops of heads (never mind anyone with arms above their heads), and even worse, lost a load of feet. Quite a few of the Snowflakes were visible only from the knees up (yet we had a glorious view of the set), and at one point where Drosselmeyer was doing something quite important the camera zoomed in so far on to Marie that we barely saw what it was! I must admit that I hadn't previously realised quite to what an extent the Balanchine Nutcracker was the School's end-of-year production - don't think I've ever seen so many children in a production before - but I didn't really find it any less cheesy than the film with Macaulay Culkin in it, which did surprise me. I was a bit surprised they didn't have Sara Mearns as Sugarplum - I was expecting that as she was the first-night cast - but I did very much like Ashley Bouder as Dewdrop. Disappointed that Vue, unlike Odeon and Picturehouse, couldn't stretch to a cast sheet - it would have been nice to have been able to put more names to faces I'm not very familiar with.

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