This is the third year Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Co has performed their own version of The Nutcracker. I missed the previous performances, just due to time factors and money. It is very expensive trying to fit in all the holiday shows of late. NYCB busts the bank with an asking price ticket of $95 for the fourth ring in pigeon heaven. But make no mistake, the GKB version of this classic is no runner up to Balanchine. It has its own independent take on the ballet that is very satisfying. This version also has some love notes to both the Balanchine version and the Baryshnikov version, two legendary productions that Kirkland danced in over the years.
The students from the Kirkland Academy were very professional. Not only did they fill the children's roles but also the Corps for the Snowflake dance, Corps back up for the soloists in the 2nd act divertissements and part of the corps for the Waltz of the Flowers. Everyone looked great, my only reservations were that the Corps pointe shoes were horribly noisy during the Snowflake scene and many dancers performed over-extensions above the perfect 90 degrees for arabesques.
The standout dancers were Koki Yamaguchi who danced Fritz and the Russian Ambassador, Kaito Yamamoto as the Mortal Time doll in the first act, leads Dawn Milatin as Marie & Erez Milatin as the Nutcracker Prince.
Dawn Milatin had wonderful acting skills, dancing technique and stage presence. All of which I am sure the GK Academy has helped foster. I loved that Dawn Milatin sold the role, especially in the Grand Pas de Deux, in a very showbiz way making it larger than life. That kind of showmanship is just missing in many larger companies these days. Erez Milatin is just as good with long, clean extensions and powerful leaps. He filled the romantic aspect of the Prince role very well.
The company's new theater and studio on Jay Street is a good size and accommodates both performances and dance studies. Although, I did think this production would do better if it had more stage room to breathe, but the small stage did not hamper the dancers in a noticeable way. Still having a theater in the same space as the dance studio is best and cheaper in the long run. It gives the company more wiggle room to mount more ambitious projects.
This is a great addition to NY's holiday performances and I plan to make it a yearly seasonal event.