Whoa, did 2011 ever go out on a positive note this afternoon.
Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak delivered a gorgeous performance as Princess Clara and the Nutcracker Prince today at BAM. What a difference ten days makes! From the first steps in their entrance for the Snow Pas, these two looked like a couple meant to dance together. Whoever thought to join these two in Holy Dancemony has the gratitude of today's large audience. We can only hope that this blessed union sticks - in good times and in bad, in Petipa and in Balanchine (and of course in Ratmansky), so long as they both shall dance. Today their vows of confidence, joy, musicality, and their wholesome wonder of the story they were living could not have been delivered with more genuine warmth. Great, great chemistry today.
[Okay, Warner, let's go to the videotape.]
Pretty darn good all around. Sarah is a gutsy dancer who will take a good risk but won't blow a wad on the lottery. Today, she spent wisely – those en dedans revolutions in arabesque were absolutely freakin' stunning. You should have seen Gorak's face when he realized what she'd just done in front him: Ladies and Gentlemen, you've just seen the play of the year!
The dancers' solos were dreamy and sparkly at the same time. Gorak has impeccable technical etiquette. Even when he's just standing around, his feet are in a clear first position and his legs are stretched. The guy's series of double pirouettes with its confident finish was juicier than a strip steak at The Old Homestead. His grand jetes down stage soared like a bird. Sarah was simply a magical ballerina throughout the performance. After seeing her triumph in this difficult choreography, it is so hard to understand why she, Riccetto, Abrera, and the other fabulous soloists are being shoved aside like roadkill to clear the path for guest artists who are lesser in every important way.
The only major problem in today's performance was the big Grigorovich-inspired lift. It went better for them last week. Gorak might be another one who needs to do a little strength work on the upper body. If someone would tell him today that he and Sarah would be dancing Giselle in Virginia in April, that little strength issue would probably get corrected pretty darn fast. Yeah, yeah, yeah - from Haglund's lips to God's ears.
So, 2011 definitely went out on a high note. Other glorious performances this past week included Veronika Part & Marcelo Gomes on Thursday night and Eric Tamm & Gillian Murphy on Monday night. This week alone made Haglund wish that The Nutcracker would continue for another couple of weeks. Seeing how strongly Tamm, Lane, and Gorak danced in principal roles in the Ratmansky choreography makes Haglund hungry to see what more they can accomplish with a little tender loving artistic care.
Attendance this year has not been spectacular, and the less expensive seats in the balcony, mezz, and the sides of the orchestra seemed much more popular than the prime orchestra seats. Brooklynites are not going to pay Manhattan prices to bring their families to The Nutcracker. If you are a family of four and you can either (A) go sit in the orchestra section at a performance of The Nutcracker, or (B) put everyone on a plane to Florida for a Christmas vacation, what do you suppose your family's choice will be? A ticket to a ballet performance of The Nutcracker should not be as expensive as a plane ticket to Florida. That's just plain dumb. A lot of free tickets were given away, and that's great. But it's still not going to make people pay a hundred bucks next year to see The Nutcracker.
Let's close out the year with a fine Pump Bump Award for Sarah Lane and Joe Gorak who, if given the opportunity, could make us happy balletomanes for years to come.