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New York City Ballet: George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” 2015
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New York City Ballet: George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” 2015

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New York City Ballet
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George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” 2015

Founders: George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master: Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Music Director: Andrew Litton
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Associate Dir. Communications: Katharina Plumb
Communications Associate: Kina Poon
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
December 8, 2015

(Read More New York City Ballet Reviews).

The Nutcracker: Ballet in two acts, four scenes, and prologue, based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1891), Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, Costumes by Karinska, Original Lighting by Ronald Bates, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Conductor, Clotilde Otranto, Violin Soloist, Arturo Delmoni.

Performed by Megan Fairchild as Sugarplum Fairy, Adrian Danchig-Waring as Her Cavalier, Sterling Hyltin as Dewdrop, Ask la Cour as Dr. Stahlbaum, Gwyneth Muller as Frau Stahlbaum, Avery Lin as Marie and The Little Princess, Sawyer Reo as Fritz, David Prottas as Herr Drosselmeier, Emil José Kelso as His Nephew / The Nutcracker / The Little Prince, Baily Jones and Indiana Woodward as Harlequin and Columbine, Devin Alberda as Soldier, Aaron Sanz as Mouse King, Savannah Lowery as Coffee, Spartak Hoxha, Baily Jones, and Claire Von Enck as Tea, Daniel Ulbricht as lead Candy Cane, Lauren King as lead Marzipan Shepherdess, Harrison Coll as Mother Ginger, Emily Gerrity and Gretchen Smith as lead Flowers, the Company as Maids, Parents, Children, Mice, Soldiers, Snowflakes, Angels, Hot Chocolate, Candy Canes, Marzipan Shepherdesses, Polichinelles, and Flowers, and Students of School of American Ballet (SAB).

Each Holiday season, New York City Ballet has new surprises in its inspired and perfect The Nutcracker production, replete with a giant Christmas tree that grows and grows to Tschaikovsky’s dramatic score, a doll bed that spins and glides, a Nutcracker doll that grows into a warring soldier, a Mouse King with multiple heads, an uncle that makes a grandfather clock shake and strike, a full-blazing onstage snowstorm, multiple dancing sweets, like hot chocolate and candy canes, a campy Mother Ginger in drag, with a dress that hides eight dancers, and sumptuous dancing flowers with pastel petals amidst a fragrantly bedecked stage. There were several wonderful surprises tonight, in the stunning cast, such as Taylor Stanley and Georgina Pazcoguin as the leaders of the Act II Hot Chocolate dance, with scintillating chemistry and outsized theatrics. They played to the audience, that included several children attending this evening’s ballet. Devin Alberda, as The Soldier, was precise in tightly timed footwork, eloquent in high jumps, and impressive in serious affect. And, Sterling Hyltin, as Dewdrop, sliced the air with her feet in multiple-fouetté tours de force. Her balance and poise were confident and magnetic.

Megan Fairchild, as The Sugar Plum Fairy, was predictably radiant, ebullient, and a fantasy vision for Marie’s Christmas dream With Adrian Danchig-Waring, as Her Cavalier, she seized the stage. Mr. Danchig-Waring, a fully muscular presence, is always compelling in technique, yet, tonight, there seemed to be little chemistry between the two lead dancers. The Nutcracker is a story ballet, although certainly not of the Romeo variety. Still, a Fairy and Cavalier in any ballet plot need to exude eye contact and spark. As Herr Drosselmeier, David Prottas was another lovely surprise, filled with kinetic fervor, sitting on the grandfather clock like a spooky owl. Aaron Sanz, as Mouse King, fought gallantly against The Nutcracker, Emil José Kelso, a young dancer from SAB to watch. Two toys that emerge from a gift box (as had the Soldier), Harlequin and Columbine, were danced by Baily Jones and Indiana Woodward. I made note of their effervescent personas. As Marie and Fritz, Avery Lin and Sawyer Reo (two young students from SAB) danced with full dramatic credibility and aplomb. As their parents, Dr. and Frau Stahlbaum, Ask la Cour and Gwyneth Muller were a perfect pair.

Savannah Lowery, as Coffee, danced in a belly dance costume with sinewy ardor. Daniel Ulbricht led the Candy Canes, rapidly jumping through hoops with ease, while Lauren King led the Marzipan Shepherdesses with gaiety and high spirits. Emilie Gerrity and Gretchen Smith led the Flowers, as Ms. Hyltin’s backdrop, with fragrant exuberance. Harrison Coll, as Mother Ginger in drag, could not have been more entertaining, moving adroitly to cover eight Corps Polichinelles beneath his ultra-wide skirt. As Tea, Spartak Hoxha, Baily Jones, and Claire Von Enck kept rhythm with the fluty theme. In the gestalt, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is neither just than another evening at the ballet, nor just another Holiday event. Rather, this Nutcracker is a vivacious, vibrant vision, with Tschaikovsky’s marvelous score. As the Violin Soloist, Arturo Delmoni caught my ear, over and over, with sumptuous solos that inspired imagination and transported the audience to Marie’s Christmas Eve dream. Clotilde Otranto, in the pit, kept City Ballet Orchestra spellbinding with sweeping entrances and themes. But, it’s the miraculous imagery of Karinska’s enchanting costumes and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s storybook scenery, combined with Ronald Bates’ warm lighting and thousands of snowflakes that make this a must-see, even twice or thrice, Holiday Season ballet. Scene after scene elicits audience accolades. Kudos to George Balanchine.

Megan Fairchild in George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Adrian Danchig-Waring in George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet in the Snowflake Scene
in George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Sterling Hyltin as Dewdrop and New York City Ballet Corps
as Flowers in George Balanchine's "The Nutcracker"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at