Rosecliff Mansion, Newport, RI.
November 22, 2023.
“Magic”. Perhaps we consider fairies, elves, Santa Claus and every other variety of legendary beings. But, if we imagine that magic is throughout us, on a regular basis, can we additionally imagine that we are able to making magic? Newport Up to date Ballet (NCB)’s A Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff is at all times constructed in a means that has me questioning who catalyzes the magic at hand: the Winter Fairy, Drosselmeyer, the Sugarplum Fairy, or all of them in flip?
After a pre-show notice from Creative Director Danielle Genest, I noticed that query just a little in a different way this 12 months. She famous how the large endeavor of the manufacturing is feasible solely due to the work of dancers, volunteers and the bigger group that helps the corporate. We make the Nutcracker magic – all of us, collectively.
Within the healthful, Victorian-era world of the manufacturing, nevertheless, the Winter Fairy (Margot Aknin) appeared to kick off the story’s otherworldly happenings. Aknin danced with the ethereal effervescence of the spritely being that she embodied. I felt one thing transcendent as Tchaikovsky’s rating got here up, as properly – as I at all times do, irrespective of what number of occasions I’ve heard it. There’s no magic fairly like Nutcracker magic.
The characters led us into their vacation occasion, full with items and a brightly-lit tree. The attendants danced with easy grace, so very accustomed to internet hosting and attending such opulent gatherings. Solely Drosselmeyer (Gregory Tyndall) was one thing one won’t anticipate – and all of the extra entertaining for it. Quickly we met the delightfully candy Ballerina Doll (Jenna Torgeson) and the stoically highly effective Soldier Doll (Benjamin Rabe).
The Winter Fairy returned to sprinkle her magic right here – and youngsters on the occasion noticed her. The road between actuality and her magical world was blurring. She appeared to blur the strains additional with the incoming rats and their Rat Queen (Deanna Gerde); had been all occasions right here, even people who appeared scary, a part of her grand plan?
In any case, by all of it, Kathleen Medeiros danced Tess with each refined grace and spectacular understatement. She compelled not a factor. Tess Oelrichs, a woman who as soon as lived at Rosecliff, is NCB’s model of Clara. The Battle Scene introduced the organized chaos of true battle, and the Waltz of the Snowflakes the pure great thing about snow softly coming down.
NCB’s model of that waltz had simply two dancers to start out, after which extra joined – reflective of how snow generally builds from only a few flurries to full sheets coming down. The intricacy and multiplicity attribute of this variation was very a lot readily available. The ballroom glistened by all of it, with a number of snowy timber and a wintery glow in lighting (by Stephen Petrilli, with manufacturing and stage administration by Vivian Okay. Humphrey). Tess was totally within the magic, and we had been proper there together with her.
A shout out to Kelly Moeller Rabe and her trusty accomplice Raum Aron Gens-Ostrowski, who executed a memorable Snow Pas de Deux. Moeller Rabe’s artistry demonstrated that slightly than an aesthetic difficulty, a tall lady dancing en pointe can convey fascinating energy and charm.
It appears as if the Sugarplum Fairy took the reins of working the magic for the second act. Brooke DiFrancesco danced the position together with her signature ease, but additionally rock-solid technical command. She lets the motion resonate by her, like a rung bell, and it appears as pure as respiratory.
Aknin and Carson Ford danced Chocolate with as a lot elan as one might hope for. The vocabulary had a satisfying basis of balletic shapes with infusions of Spanish aptitude. In Espresso, Lauren Difede and Isabelle Ramage created compelling thriller with watercolor scarves (costume design by Eileen Stoops) and curvilinear motion. Oranges and reds crammed the ballroom’s white partitions. With such design enhances, every variation turned its personal enchanting little world.
Tea, with Jenna Torgeson and a corps of youth solid dancers, supplied a zippy deal with of intricate footwork and gracefully arching shapes. The Sweet Canes had been as elegant and stately as Moeller Rabe’s and Emily Baker’s white gloves (additionally with Gregory Tyndall, to bop as a trio).
Benjamin Rabe introduced jaw-dropping athleticism in Trepak, with an accompanying corps for this variation as properly. It was one other speedy deal with of pure, pulsing vitality. Mom Ginger (Martha Parker) and her Polichinelles (two teams of younger dancers at separate ages), with Tess additionally becoming a member of in, created fairly the occasion – the place everybody was invited. The viewers, clapping alongside, wasn’t about to be neglected of the enjoyable!
4 flowers and the Dewdrop Fairy (Deanna Gerde) then graced the stage for the Waltz of the Flowers. They supplied shapes and formations simply as gently and gracefully shapely as rose petals. Gerde, for her half, radiated vitality – identical to a flower in full bloom.
The Coda, with Timur Kan bringing his typical mixture of delicate artistry and uncooked energy, was as fascinating as ever. Then got here the finale, wherein it’s a delight to have the entire stage house bursting with all of those characters of sweetness and magic.
A enjoyable factor with seeing separate Nutcrackers is what number of have barely completely different endings. NCB’s had the Sugarplum Fairy inserting the Nutcracker Doll in Tess’s arms as she slept. The Sugarplum Fairy then exited. Tess awoke. She checked out her doll, as completely happy as might be, and joyfully ran off with it. “Actual” or not, what had occurred was a delight – and that appeared to be sufficient for her.
Once we all work collectively to convey magic to the stage – performers, designers, directors, volunteers, patrons, group members – it may be sufficient. In reality, it’s sometimes simply that: utter magic. We don’t want fairies or dolls that come to life to expertise it. The vacation season, with its distinctive combination of organized chaos and shiny cheer, can remind us of that reality. Thanks as at all times, Newport Up to date Ballet, for serving to to convey us that magic!
By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.