Less excitement and more blank looks seem to be the response to the glimpse of casting for the new ABT Nutcracker at BAM. And the institutional pea-soup-green and brick red color scheme of the latest announcement doesn't build breathless anticipation either.
We really need to get a good look at the Rats in order to create the right Nutcracker buzz. Brooklyn's rats have long needed a makeover – especially the ones along Lafayette Avenue – so it is with great anticipation that we – and they – await to see how Captain A-Rat will spruce up the native population and turn the scurrying darlings into productive members of the community.
It certainly is good to see that apparently – this surmised exclusively from the limited casting published on the eve of the opening of The Nutcracker box office – there will be a wide range of choreographies for Prince What'shisname and Clara created to accommodate the wide range of abilities and styles of the lead dancers. We'll have something spectacular for several Princes and then we'll have the watered-down version of spectacular for you-know-who. For Clara we'll have some stiff-shoed wiz-banging, some grown-up elegance, and perhaps two instances of true progressive character development of a young girl. You gotta wonder whether the leads were pre-cast in stone for Ratmansky before a single step was ever choreographed. Just observing the collection of principal women – Part, Murphy, Herrera, Reyes – when have they ever danced the same full length role? Oh yeah, McKenzie's Sleeping Beauty – but, really, try to think of one. And it appears that one of the perennial Sugar Plum and Cavalier couples (Abrera & Radetsky) and a perennial Clara (Riccetto) have lost their positions in the lineup. No doubt they are being good sports about it, though.
Let's hope nobody notices that nine out of sixteen principals are not dancing the "lead" roles – roughly 56-57% of the principal roster are excluded. Maybe it's high time that a few of these so-called principals who only show up for the Met Season are finally correctly labeled as permanent guest artists so that a few deserving soloists can be moved up to company principal rank and finally be given the respect they deserve – before their tights grow moldy. No doubt, McKenzie has a hat-load of flimsy excuses for obstinately refusing to promote Abrera and a few others and another hat-load for falsely carrying Vishneva and Bolle as company principal dancers, and Lord knows a Hoss-sized Stetson full of flimsy excuses for continuing to push the struggling Stearns at us in principal roles with marginal or less success. It must be very comfy under that bubble of excuses.