A small but enthusiastic crowd braved impassable roads, nonfunctioning subways, and no street parking to see ABT’s The Nutcracker at BAM where Yuriko Kajiya and Alexandre Hammoudi delivered their anticipated breakout performances. After seeing them in dress rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, Haglund warned everyone not to miss this. It was spectacular. Their take on the story was like Part’s and Gomes’ and was characterized by youthful exuberance.
Hammoudi came out of his overly-reserved shell and allowed us to see what a charming, funny guy he can be. He backed up his charisma with incredibly articulate batterie. The swish, swish, swish of his entrechat six could be heard in the Orchestra level and images of Hammoudi’s crossed arched feet are burned into Haglund’s memory. Huge, effortless leaps and beautifully balanced pirouettes were his to throw our way time and time again.
Kajiya glistened in true ballerina form – the sweeping motion of her leg as it went from front to side to back at a thankfully moderate height and the delicate way in which she placed her pointes to the floor made one hear the music all the more clearly. Kajiya’s phrasing and musicality have always been admired in her solo work but it hasn’t been that often that we’ve had the opportunity to see it utilized in a PdD. Last night, she and Hammoudi were so in tune with one another that Haglund wished the PdD would never end.
Their Grigorovich Lift came closer to success than any of the other ABT casts that Haglund has seen so far, but it really is not anywhere near what it should be. Here is a You Tube clip of how it was done at the Bolshoi. Victoria Luchkina and Mikhail Zinoviev blow it out at about 3:10 of this clip. Note the smoothness of the entry into the lift and how Zinovev extends his left arm. The cast in the live-streamed performance of the Bolshoi on December 19 was as bold, if not bolder. The ballerina flung herself at the prince’s chest and he lifted her like she was paper.
A five minute counselingsession with Mr. Grigorovich would probably yield impressive results from Hammoudi and Kajiya or Cornejo and Reyes on the second try. Here, call him up, (Tel.: + 7 495 692 08 18), get him on a SKYPE connection, and let’s put this baby to bed.
Little Clara and The Nutcracker Boy were Lauren Ann Bonfiglio and Kai Monroe. Both were wonderfully charming. Haglund loves how the Little Claras are just a tad bit taller than The Nutcracker Boys as it is with most 12 year olds. It took him back to the days when he and his friends went to a weekly mandatory Friday night “Party Wagon” arranged by our parents and the elementary school where we all learned how to waltz and fox trot and behave in adult social situations. Doing a box step to Bobby Vinton’s Blue Velvetchanged us.
Haglund knows that he wasn’t the first one to notice the facial resemblance of Lauren Ann to a much missed Bolshoi ballerina in her student days. The same round, wide eyes had the same magical effect. For more pictures of some of our legends as youngsters, go here.
Justin Souriau-Levine once again stole the show as the Little Mouse. His pratfalls, belly flops, and slides to the knees as he scurries around are delivered with perfect comedic timing. As cute as he is, Haglund hopes he doesn’t grow so much in 2011 that he can’t reprise his role next year.
No negatives in the dancing last night. Have to say though that the orchestra was not tip-top. The overture didn’t have the magical effect and the horns at the beginning of the Waltz of the Flowers were a little off. Maybe it had something to do with the snow storm that prevented everyone from getting to the pit as refreshed as they could have been. Or maybe there were some players absent or substituted, as there were with the little soldiers – who carried on very, very well.
We have less than a week of performances left. Cornejo and Reyes will be on stage for the first time this Thursday and for the final performance next Sunday evening. Don’t miss this Nutcracker, People.
Last night’s show was terrific and those in attendance were happy that they braved the crappy weather to come out and see Kajiya’s and Hammoudi’s breakout performances. The Pump Bump Award, a Prada purple satin and jeweled beauty, goes to them: