NYCB: The Nutcracker / our review
Enchanting FESTIVE incredible
Nov 10th, 2016
George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is on point - pun intended!
Fun Facts: Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker was composed in 1891, it was the third and last of his great ballet trilogy, following Swan Lake (1872) and The Sleeping Beauty (1890). He was inspired by E.T.A Hoffmann's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", which he simplified for the ballet.
Target Audience: Little girls, boys and all grown-ups who dream of magical lands will love this production. The Nutcracker is the epitome of holiday charm and cheer. Whether you sit back and savor the tremendous music, pick out your favorite costumes, admire the sets or marvel at the brilliant ballerinas, it is sure to please!
Best Bit: The pas de deux with principal dancers Sterling Hyltin as the Sugarplum Fairy and Andrew Veyette as her Cavalier is elegant, electrifying and energized. She flies through air, twists, twirls, dips and surrenders to his love. As they come down the center of the stage, the music builds and she does a series of turns before bending back - a goosebumps moment and my eyes filled with tears. She has been dancing since she was six years old and joined New York City Ballet in 2003, in 2007 she became a principal dancer. I couldn't help but wonder which little girls will be inspired by her perfection.
Morning After Effect: I think I'd like to set my alarm tone to Tchaikovsky's Marzipan from November 25 to Christmas Day
Verdict: One can only imagine the sacrifice, heart, soul and love these dancers have for ballet!
It is the day after Thanksgiving and opening night of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, as crowds pour into the main plaza of Lincoln Center, festivities fill the air and I am pleased to know that the holiday season is in full swing. We make our way into the theatre and out onto the balcony to enjoy the view of these spectacular buildings and the beautiful people arriving. It is very clear that everyone has made an effort to get 'suited and booted' for this fine occasion and most take a snap shot in front of the iconic fountains outside of the Metropolitan Opera House and David Geffin Hall, before heading into the absolutely exquisite David H. Koch Theater, which is home to New York City Ballet.
Enthusiastic little girls wearing tiaras and tutus skip through the auditorium to find their seats, followed by adorable boys wearing suits and bow ties. The grown-ups appear equally as charmed, adorned with their furs, glitz and glamour. As we sit in the opulent theatre I cannot help feel a great sense of excitement knowing we are about to experience NYCB's The Nutcracker for the first time! The production hasn't even begun and I am already thinking about my return next year, I even fast forward and imagine myself bringing our unborn children! The energy is invigorating!
George Balanchine was so moved by the beauty of Tchaikovsky's 1891 score when he danced in the original version as a young student in St. Petersburg that he decided to present The Nutcracker to NYCB as their first full-length ballet in the 1950s. It was met with hesitation as audiences had never really warmed to it and the music was believed to be far too Old World for the modern audience. However, Balanchine was determined and The Nutcracker premiered on February 2, 1954. Sixty-two years later, audiences continue to relish in this enchanted holiday tale, a tradition for many New York families and a dream come true for people travelling to see it from near and far.
The Nutcracker is charming in every way, from the unforgettable score, the astonishing scenery by Rouben Ter-Artunian and Barbara Karinska's gorgeous costumes, however none of this would breath if it weren't for the real magic, the ballerinas on stage accompanied by the live orchestra below. In many ways, conductor Andrew Litton is the puppeteer in the pit, keeping a watchful eye on his magical musicians as the creatures above move with passion and precision to the strings and vibrations of the score. It is breathtaking to say the least!
It is a universal truth that ballerinas are among the hardest working and most committed athletes of all time and to be a part of NYCB is no small feat. It is an honor to be on this stage and each ballerina exudes their duty and respect. They are all incredible, from the children to the more accomplished! Anthony Huxley was a particular highlight for me as he performs Candy Cane, jumping through a hoop eleven times, he is focused and accurate in every move yet appears to be having such fun as he smiles from ear-to-ear. Also worth mention is Claire Kretzschmar's Coffee, a sensual and superbly performed variation which involves hand bells. Equally as dedicated are the musicians who make this score appear effortless despite its complexity. It is an absolute privilege to witness the pure talent of these artists and be taken on such a marvelous adventure with them all.
The Nutcracker will warm your heart, from the scurry of giant mice, the enormous Christmas tree, waltzing snowflakes, decadent Land of Sweets, and the magnificent Sugarplum Fairy (Sterling Hyltin). It is no wonder why The Nutcracker has become an essential part of the holiday season for so many, and while it plays all over the world, it really is quite remarkable to see this ballet performed by one of the foremost dance companies in the world, founded by George Balanchine.
View our show pages for more information about NYCB: The Nutcracker, David H Koch Theater.