BWW Reviews: Kozlova's THE NUTCRACKER
Small children running wild while dressed as mice, fake cannonballs being thrown into the crowd, a magic show on stage- what else could it be but the season favorite, The Nutcracker?
Kozlova's nutcracker was good for laughs and bringing a smile to your face. The small children that made up about half of the cast instantly began getting into presents that rested underneath the beautiful, large, prop Christmas tree during the opening Christmas party scene, making it feel very realistic, since I imagine they were behaving exactly as children their age would be at a boring gathering for adults. Much of the show was also a bit campy and aimed towards children in the audience, or just to earn some laughs, with a kooky performance from Erik Baker as the Mouse King and a magic show from Margo Sappington as Baroness Drosselmeyer.
Nikita Boris as Clara was wonderfully cast-- she had a maturity to her dancing, but still seemed a bit nervous on stage, which is suiting given the young age of the character. And I must compliment Boris for executing the Nutcracker Dance splendidly, bringing back fond memories from my childhood of dancing around the Christmas tree with my very own nutcracker. Boris took control of the stage, finally seeming comfortable and confident in her movements, and danced effortlessly on pointe during this solo. Speaking of nutcrackers, Jack Furlong was a star as the Nutcracker Prince, dancing with a confidence that was pleasing to watch, and supported Clara strongly in all of their partnering.
However, I must confess that the night was not at all how I had imagined. With promises of guest artists, professional ballerinas, and an extensive background in dance from Kozlova herself, I believed myself to be in for quite a treat. However, I was instead met with unorganized chaos, with way too much going on at once all over the stage, making it impossible to know where to look, parents taking pictures every chance they got and waving to their children on-stage, and a few too many falls from the young dancers-- someone get these girls some rosin. Much of the adult cast also seemed to be made up of volunteer dance moms and dads. In fact, I'm sure I saw a few of the dads blushing as they danced with their partners in the opening party scene.
The real treat of the evening was the Arabian duet between Demitra Berevskos and Solieh Samudio, guest performer from the Ballet Nacional De Panama. This number was the only spectacular one in the show and almost made the entire production worthwhile. I wish we could have seen more from these spectacular guest artists, as they were proof that Kozlova is indeed a brilliant choreographer when given the talent to execute it. Another highlight of the evening was during the Mouse King's death scene, when a young mouse instantly rushed to his side in confusion as he fell to his death and asked, "What's wrong?"?
Overall, it was an enjoyable evening, even if it did feel a bit long towards the end. Congratulations to these young dancers on holding their own against guest artists and putting together an enjoyable performance to get us in the holiday spirit.
Photo credit: Yelena Yeva