American Ballet Theater's The Nutcracker

For the past few years, I've been meaning to go and see ABT's version of The Nutcracker.  They staged a new version and the Baryshnikov version choreographed for himself plus the lovely Kirkland is now retired.  At the beginning of this year, ABT announced that they will not renew their engagement at BAM and will now move their holiday season to California.  So this year is the last year to see ABT's Nutcracker in NY.

I saw the production this past Saturday with Hee Seo and Corey Stearns in the lead roles.  The dancing, on the whole, was very good.  There were a few ragged arms and wobbly legs in some scenes but not so bad that it detracted from the performance.  The children from ABT's school were fantastic and in this particular production (choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky) they perform some very large roles.  Hee Seo was lovely as the adult Clara and her solo was enjoyable to watch.  Corey Stearns struck me as capable of more and I didn't get the sense that the choreography challenged him in any way.  His solo was filled with changements, entrechets and other quick, small jetes.  On a smaller dancer these steps would look dynamic but Stearns is rather tall and it just seemed as though he were sleepwalking rather than dancing.  But he did partner Seo very well and they had great stage presence as a couple.

The costume and scenery was a bit lacking in places with strange color choices that seemed too modern for the Georgian era it was portraying.  These abrupt changes in style were disorienting and reminded me a bit of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  Which isn't a bad thing if that was intended, but I don't think that was the frame of mind they were invoking.  The snowflake set piece however (pictured above) was very pretty.

The choreography was great with some interesting change ups from more established versions.  I thought the addition of the male dancers in The Waltz of the Flowers was rather cheeky and sweet. This production doesn't take itself that seriously.

If you can get to BAM in Brooklyn, then see this ballet before the run ends.

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