BWW Review: The State Ballet Theatre of Russia in Brooklyn New York
The Sunday matinee performance, on December 17, 2017, The State Ballet Theatre of Russia performed the iconic ballet The Nutcracker. This company brought the enchantment from the East to the venue of On Stage at Kingsborough Community College. A sold-out performance! The audience was comprised mostly of local Brighton Beach and other Brooklynites. The music of The Nutcracker is one of my top three favorite ballet scores and there are numerous reasons for that. Yet, my favorite reason is the ease by which choreography can be created for each piece of this fairy tale.
This company had various sections in during which I was quite impressed. First, it is important to note that this particular ballet needs to have scenery that engenders fantasy mixed with child-like awe. And so, they did just that. From the Charles Dickens Christmas Carol-like living room to the bright colors and tapestry of the Land of the Sweets, I was pulled into Masha's world. Masha is the child protagonist in the Russian version, whereas Clara or Marie is the United States version of this ballet. My one disappointment was that an actual nutcracker did not appear until the close of the entire performance. Besides that incongruency, the highlights are as follows.
The party guests entered in a choreographic style reminiscent of American Ballet Theater's Romeo and Juliet, while the roles of the young boys were played by the adult female company members. Even though there were no children on stage, the young ladies' costumes and miming played this off quite well. During Act I, I never felt that the choreography was too busy nor overwhelming to impede the focus on the festivities. Act I could have potentially contained so much movement with too many small groups dancing differently, yet instead the formations and melding happened so naturally. The Soldier Doll, played by Valeriy Tselischev [also Masha's Prince for Act II Land of the Sugar Plums] caught my eye with his jetes set off by his a la seconde pirouettes. His strengths were in partnering Masha, played by Darya Demchenko and his double side tours. The Corps de Ballet's Land of the Snow stayed strong throughout that lengthy musical interlude. I really appreciated this because it is important to end Act I with energy still at a high level. Bravo to the corps!
When Masha entered Land of the Sweets her Uncle Drosselmeyer was present as the Master of Ceremonies. I found it overbearing to include his character heavily in this act. However, my interpretation of his role was more so to inspire her dream rather than make the magic occur of the various dances in the following act. Nevertheless, the upcoming music and dances named as countries piqued my senses. It was evident that when the Russia Act occurred, the traditional folk dance tricks by Ilya Smirnov excited the audience with his floor spins. The corps for Waltz of the Flowers also continued to show their strength and classical technique. Their heads, arms, arabesques, formations, and so on were all in sync. When they were dancing in lines of four, one in back of the other, their precise formations exceeded several of the most highly rated ballet companies around. This showed me that the Artistic Director, Anatoly Emelianov, puts much rehearsal and effort not only into the soloist and principal dancers, but also for the corps.
Quality Russian classical technique was demonstrated by each member of this company. I feel there were some dancers that should continue to refine their theatrics while keeping up the daily regimen of ballet class. Nonetheless, as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday tradition of The Nutcracker and Eastern flare that The State Ballet of Russia brought to it this season.
Note: On stage at Kingsborough offers numerous performances throughout the year. To find out about more upcoming events, visit their website at: www.onstagekingsborough.org