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December 25, 2022


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Yes, I was at the Sterling Hyltin farewell performance and had hoped to catch one or two more performances, esp with younger dancers,around Christmas and New Year's but between the cost and the total lack of tickets for some performances it just didn't happen.

I generally go to a performance of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker" every few years; it's been about four now. I don't particularly like the production for two reasons: (1) too child-centric (2) his interpolation of the Entr'acte from Sleeping Beauty. For me, Tchaikovsky's score is perfect as is (unlike the original score for Swan Lake, his first ballet score almost 20 years earlier, which was over-composed). (I'm not wild about Balanchine's rearrangement of the score, either.) My favorite production has always been Baryshnikov's (even though he, too, rearranged the score) because it's not about kids. I did see Ratmansky's version for ABT a few weeks ago and had forgotten how wonderful it is, for much of the same reason I liked Baryshnikov's version: the emotional core is much more accessible, without which you don't get the full magnificence of the composer's work. Just my opinion, of course.

I love Baryshnikov's film version, too, but I suspect casts other than the one on film might not have been as magical. But then, who in the world would have been?

I wasn't crazy about Vainonen's Snow Scene. No matter what company dances it, it always looks heavy and sluggish.

Ratmansky's snow scene is exquisite.


I was lucky to attend three different Nutcrackers. In my opinion, Ashley Hod deserved far more Sugar Plum performances than the two she received. Her stage presence was extraordinary and the way she used her arms during the Grans pas was magical. All in all she blew me and the rest of the audience away.

I also very much enjoyed Megan Lecrone's Dewdrop. I'm not that familiar with her dancing, but she glistened like the last snow before spring. Her dancing was expressive and delightful.

That said, from the Fourth Ring I was annoyed at this year's dolls. I get that they have to crawl into the boxes from behind...but that means crawling not sticking your head above the boxes so that the Fourth Ring can see you getting in. It was painfully obvious that there was a lot of rustling before and after their dances during the party scene.

I totally agree about the Balanchine Nutcracker being too child-centric. I also much preferred the older dancers from 2021. They all portrayed characters onstage and did never had the blank glare that this year's cohort had. The little ones are fun to watch, but it feels a little like attending a recital. That's totally fine, but at the prices NYCB charge I don't like that I only really watch the two hours for Snow, Waltz, Marzipan, and Grand Pas, ESPECIALLY when you compare it to the high entertainment/dance value of the party scene in Stanton Welch's Nutcracker for Houston Ballet. That choreography feels like it's worth every penny.

BUT I still love the Balanchine production, maybe paradoxically based on what I just said above, because it highlights the joy of Christmas from the child's perspective. No other Nutcracker captures that emotion quite as well.

Unfortunately, I didn't see Ashley Hod's SPF but I totally agree with your observation about her extraordinary stage presence.

I have to point out that there are currently only six women principal dancers compared to thirteen men. The optics are truly offensive and have been offensive for quite some time.

I am curious as to what Baryshnikov's Nutcracker would have looked like in person, onstage. I do adore it, all but for the constant creepy presence of Drosselmeyer. I'm never a fan of Nutcrackers where Drosselmeyer is lurking about in Act 2.

Thanks for pointing out Ashley Hod's performance, Zachary. I thought she was a standout in some recent rep performances and would love to see her as Sugarplum in the future. Another dancer I heard was impressive as Sugarplum was Emma von Enck, and I think she got only one performance. I know Emilie Gerrity got quite a bit of stage time as I think she was filling in for both Sara Mearns and Ashley Bouder at various points. I had hoped to be able to catch at least one of these younger dancers during the last week, but hesitated too long for tickets (am at older end of age spectrum and still have some reservations about spending a couple hours crammed in with maskless children).

I did see Baryshnikov's version a number of times on stage. In fact, there was at least one season when it was done in the spring, either at the Met or in San Francisco or both - I don't recall which; however, it's significant because the production worked very well as part of a varied repertoire that was certainly not holiday-themed.

Zachary: There are some clips on You Tube of a Nutcracker performance 10 or 11 years ago. I think it may have been a Live from Lincoln Center performance; there were some quite senior dancers in featured roles more often done by soloists or corps members. One of these was Tiler Peck as Marzipan; she was terrific. One of the four other shepherdesses behind her was Megan LeCrone; I think she stood out because of her height and distinctive (at least to me) hairline. It is worth watching if you have the time. I have watched it several times since I discovered it. I wasn't sure who the other dancers were, though I thought one might be Ashley Laracey. I saw Megan LeCrone as Dewdrop maybe 4 years ago.

I saw LeCrone as Dewdrop a few years ago as well. Her dancing was wonderful, but it's hard to get past her menacing face in a light, cherry role like Dewdrop. Obviously her natural looks are unique and beautiful in the real world, but under harsh stage lighting they become very...hard. I always thought the same of Wendy Whelan's.

Megan was wonderful as Effie in Peter Martins' production of La Sylphide. Warm, funny, light, charming, refreshing. Her character was like someone right out of a storybook. Martins' did an excellent job of coaching her in the role.

To add my 2 cents, I agree totally H, I am a yuge LeCrone fan,a Megan-ista! She has that presence that can take over the stage. I saw her do Hippolyta in MidSummer (this year? 3 years ago??) and she was absolutely commanding, even in the fog. (Who let those damn dogs out?!?!). But when she came out for her bow a huge grin came across her face. And I thought "Gurrrrl, smile more! You are lovely!" I agree with Anna, its very early WW. BTW, Phelan as DewDrop? Gorgeous. (AND, how long did we have to wait between HH posts? A month???? too long. Glad you are back.)

My husband and I saw Paris Opera's Mayerling in the best available seats, and it was cheaper than NYCB's Nutcracker.

I'll give you one guess which was better.

Oh my, how I envy you. Mayerling...

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