BWW Review: BWW REVIEW: DANCES PATRELLE PRESENTS THE YORKVILLE NUTCRACKER at The Kaye Playhouse At Hunter College
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'Tis the season: It is Nutcracker time again. Francis Patrelle, Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Yorkville Nutcracker, presents his holiday ballet, set in 1895 New York City. This is the 24th anniversary performance season of this ballet. The audience is taken on a tour through Olde New York's most beloved landmarks, including a holiday party at Gracie Mansion, dancing at the Crystal Palace in the New York Botanical Garden, and skating in Central Park.
Theme sets are lavish, beautiful to behold. Gillian Bradshaw Smith is the resident set designer. Costumes, too, are colorful and eye-catching. Rita H. Watson is the resident costume designer.
The real star of this (and every) Nutcracker ballet is, no doubt, the rich music of Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky; dancers and audiences alike have enjoyed it.
The opening scene, the Party Scene, included children and adults who looked like they were thrilled to be a part of this production. The young dancers came from participating schools: Ballet Academy East, Rye Ballet Conservatory, 3rd Street Music School, Harkness Dance at the 92nd St. Y, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Steps on Broadway, Downtown Dance Factory, Scarsdale Ballet, JKO School of American Ballet Theatre, Manhattan Ballet School, Princeton Ballet School, American Youth Dance Theater, and Dance Workshop. Maya Zeko, looking like a real girl, danced Mary Strong, the Mayor's Daughter (known in other productions as Clara or Marie) on opening night, 12/13/19. Ezra Kittay, also looking like an authentic boy, danced her brother, Putman Bradlee Strong (known in other productions as Fritz) and the Yellowstone Kelly Nutcracker on 12/13/19. The Maid, well played by Courtney Connor, was animated, offering comic relief. Noah Wheaton, Uncle of Mary Strong (commonly known as Uncle Drosselmeyer) was played with fun by Owen Taylor.
The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavallier are principal dancers, guest artists from the New York City Ballet. Abi Stafford returned as the Sugar Plum Fairy, partnered this year by Ask la Cour. Therese Wendler returned as the Snow Queen, partnered by Maximillian Band as the Snow King. They were joined by an animated Snow Prince, Luca Ayana, a role added in this version. Instead of snowflakes, the corps de ballet (a mix of professional dancers and students) are dressed in deep purple period dresses, hands in muffs, depicting skaters in Central Park. The scene looks dark, as if skating at night.
I picked two favorite dancers in the production. Hayley Clark danced the role of the Dew Drop with sweetness and light. Another dancer who stood out within the group in each part she danced: Dutch Flower Dolls, Skaters, Spanish Divertissement, and Flowers Corps de Ballet, was clearly professional, displaying a clean technique and good acting ability, which held her apart from the other dancers. My "detective work", using a process of elimination, discovered her name, Tanja Whited. I would have liked to see her dance more important roles.
The Yorkville Nutcracker was presented at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, December 13-15, with five performances.
Photo courtesy of Dances Patrelle