New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater
New York, NY
December 6, 2016
by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2016 by Mary Cargill
Tolstoi's remark about happy families, it seems, could have been written about the Stahlbaums, and he might have added that happy ballets are all alike, too, a celebration of innocence, wonder, and stability flanked by majestic, musical choreography. In the New York City Ballet's "Nutcracker" Tuesday night, Zachary Catazaro and Gretchen Smith were the warm, generous couple overseeing the cosy hustle-bustle of the first act, firm but loving towards Ben Griffin's delightfully natural scamp of a Fritz. Maria Kashvili was a lovely Marie, combining tenderness with a backbone.
Corps in "The Nutcracker". Photo © Paul Kolnik.
Sean Suozzi played Drosselmeyer as a warm-hearted eccentric who hadn't forgotten what it was like to be a child. He was especially tender when fixing the broken nutcracker as a magical surprise for the sleeping Marie. Sayer Reo was his nephew. He had beautifully pointed feet, a natural grace and delivered his mime with a confident control; a masterful performance.
Balanchine's "Nutcracker" avoids the modern cliche of awakening young love and lets the children enjoy their childhood, even if the best parts of it turn out to be a dream. Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette were the dream couple. Hyltin's slightly spiky upper body doesn't have the lush three-dimensional quality of a more traditional classical dancer but her luminous directness and musical sensitivity (I loved the way she bent her head back, lingering in the melody) gave her dancing a feel of liquid porcelain. She did have trouble with the timing of a turn early in the pas de deux, but didn't let it faze her and the jumps to her partner's shoulder were smooth, daring, and confident. Her Cavalier has little to do (it is a shame that he doesn't get his solo to that shimmering music) but Veyette was a dignified and generous partner with elegant turns. They had a gentle rapport, connecting with each other without exaggeration and their pas de deux was like listening to a grown up conversation.
Ashley Bouder's Dewdrop needs no partner and she danced with a controlled strength, showing pure, classical, and strongly held shapes. It was a soaring, vibrant, and uplifting performance. Daniel Ulbricht's Candy Cane was also strong and he whipped through the jumps with musical abandon, seeming to find little pauses in the music that let him float. I did miss some of the smokey mystery in Megan LeCrone's Coffee, which seemed more about stomach muscles (very impressive ones) that the haunting melody, and Erica Pereira's Marzipan could have used some more sparkle, but the evening was a very happy performance, everything a "Nutcracker" should be.
Photos © Paul Kolnik:
Top: Corps in "The Nutcracker".
Middle: Sterling Hyltin and Andrew Veyette as Sugarplum and the Cavalier.
Bottom: Ashley Bouder as Dewdrop.
Copyright © 2016 by Mary Cargill