Haglund enjoyed the Guggenheim's Works & Process presentation last evening that gave us a peek at the new ABT Nutcracker which opens at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on December 22nd. Wes Chapman, Alexei Ratmansky, Richard Hudson, and Ormsby Wilkins were the panelists. Performers included kids, corps de ballet, soloist Daniil Simkin, and Daniel Waite was the pianst.
Right up front, let's get it out there for everyone to grumble about: the sandwiches are now quite literally the size of postage stamps. If Haglund makes another little donation to Works & Process, it will be with the stipulation that it go toward upsizing the sandwiches.
So far, there is nothing to grumble about with regard to this new Nutcracker. Whether it will be strong enough to become a classic production, only time will tell. But so far, there's been nothing weird and nothing grossly over-colored. In fact, Haglund was fairly impressed with the sets and costumes which are rich in details and imaginative.
Ratmansky and Wilkins discussed their devotion to the Tchaikovsky score in its original form, and promised that they are committed to staying true to the composer's original tempi - nothing will be slowed down in order to stuff in technique nor will anything be sped up to accommodate individual tastes. It will be heard as Tchaikovsky intended us to hear it. Looking forward to that.
The small bits of choreography that were on display included the Spanish Dance, Clara and the Nutcracker Prince during the Snow Scene, the principal male solo from the Grand PdD, and the Russian Dance. Simkin's solo was full of challenging beats that Ratmansky wanted a bit more quickly and clearly from Simkin: the second leg needed to close more quickly on the travelling assemble; the entry into that assemble had to begin with a stretching up of the body and a leaning/falling movement into the step; the beats had to work on the way up instead of waiting until the top of the jump.
Yep, Haglund will look for all of this come December - from all of the Princes. The high degree of difficulty in Simkin's solo raised the speculation that there may be more than one version of the choreography for the Princes. Hope that's not the case. If there is a commitment to stay true to the score, then there should be a commitment that everyone has to do the choreography.
In the second installment of Works & Process tonight, Veronika Part will participate in the section of the program dedicated to principal coaching by Ratmansky. Veronika in a white tutu, even a practice tutu = Magic.
The most interesting aspect of last night's program was listening to Wilkins discuss Tchaikovsky's emotional state at the time he composed the Nutcracker score and the undertones of sadness or depression that accompany the beauty in the music. He also made a passing reference to the company's trip to Cuba. It was obvious from his enthusiasm that he was itching to speak more about it, but had to stay on message for this program. Wouldn't it be a nice evening if someone put together a debriefing presentation of the week in Havana?
Anyway, we all have a lot of Nutcrackertickets to buy this year, so let's get those wallets open. Not only do we all have to see both the ABT and NYCB productions, but the 15th anniversary production of TheYorkville Nutcrackerby Francis Patrelle is a must-see, and on December 19th, the Bolshoi Ballet's Nutcrackerwill be broadcast LIVE by Emerging Pictures' fantastic new Ballet in Cinemaeffort in cinemas across the country (Cinema 59 in Manhattan). More on this later.