Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Atlanta "Nutcracker"

The Atlanta Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is creative and engaging.  It is choreographed by Artistic Director John McFall, and differs from the Balanchine version.  The story is set in St. Petersburg, Russia and the colorful costumes reflect appear authentic to the period.  The original “Nutcracker” was not specific to time or location so a little creativity is welcome.  My only criticism of the choreography is that the Divertissement of the second act seem disconnected from the story of the first act.  In fact, Marya mirrors some of the solo of the Sugar Plum Fairy- I was not sure what that was all about.  Also the wonderful coda, of the Fairy’s dance, played by the celesta, was not used in this version.  The Atlanta Ballet was fortunate to have it own orchestra accompany the story.  This is so much better than having a recording. 

Several of the dancers were outstanding.  Cortney Funk and Tommy Panto were outstanding in the Spanish dance.  Panto performed some outstanding kicks.  Stephen Word was funny and creative as Mother Matruska.  He inserted contemporary mannerisms that were wonderful, e.g., he pointed to an audience member and with his finger to his ear, mouthed the words “call me.”  Jonah Hooper was a polished Cavalier, although the choreography did not allow him some of the flashier moves familiar in the Balanchine version.  Trepak was a gymnastics routine with comedy built in.  The crowd liked it- I didn’t. 

The performance took place at the Fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta.  The Atlanta Ballet scheduled 23 performances of “The Nutcracker.”  I attended a Thursday performance and the theater was packed. 
The Fabulous Fox is a historic venue.  It has nearly 5000 seats, and it seems to be perfectly preserved from its days as a movie palace (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_Theatre_(Atlanta,_Georgia).  I took a few pictures before the photo Nazi’s nixed my efforts.  The style of the theater is not to my taste, but the fact that it remains as it was is a real tribute to the community.
This “Nutcracker” is well worth spending a few hours to enjoy it and the Fox Theater. 

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