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BWW Review: Syracuse City Ballet's Annual Tradition of THE NUTCRACKER at Crouse Hinds Theater

BWW Review: Syracuse City Ballet's Annual Tradition of THE NUTCRACKER at Crouse Hinds Theater
Lia Cirio as Sugar Plum Fairy and Paul Craig as Cavalier in Syracuse City Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Royce Burgess.

This past weekend the Syracuse City Ballet, the only professional ballet company serving the Central New York community, presented its annual festive and heartwarming production of The Nutcracker astutely directed and choreographed by Syracuse City Ballet founding Artistic Director Kathleen Rathbun. The talented dancers performed to the familiar music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, lighting up the stage at the Crouse Hinds Theater creating lasting memories and carrying on tradition for many Central New Yorkers.

As always, the family-oriented ballet company's annual production featured local professional, pre-professional, and student dancers along with guest artists. This year's guest dancers performed courtesy of the Boston Ballet (Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director). Lia Cirio performed the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Paul Craig performed the role of the Prince. The pair's breathtaking performance of the famous Grand "Pas de Deux" was most memorable thanks to their grace, effortless lifts, and chemistry.

The story, of course, centers on a Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house where many guests are enjoying a party and the young children receive the special gifts from their godfather Drosselmayer, a jolly toymaker. This role was once again performed by Mike Price, a retired and award-winning veteran Syracuse radio and television newscaster. Drosselmayer gives the guests a special treat when he conjures up two life size dolls each performing their own dance. Erin Kerwin gave a lovely and animated performance as the ballerina doll. Jose Carlos Perez, a Syracuse City Ballet resident dancer, delivered a lively and standout performance as the Soldier doll.

Then Clara (the talented and charming student dancer Lucy Nagraj at the Sunday matinee) receives a beautiful ballerina Nutcracker. Her brother Fritz (Richard Huxtable) receives the Soldier Nutcracker. That night after the guests leave something magical occurs - and it's not just the elaborate growing Christmas tree beautifully designed by Paul Capotosto and enhanced by Alexander Koziara's festive lighting design.

The clock strikes and the Rat King (Jose Carlos Perez) comes charging in along with scurrying little mice. The Nutcracker (the dazzling Alejandro Cobas) is injured in battle and Drosselmayer transforms the Nutcracker into the Prince.

BWW Review: Syracuse City Ballet's Annual Tradition of THE NUTCRACKER at Crouse Hinds Theater
Makayla Kanerviko as Snow Queen in Syracuse City Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Photo by Royce Burgess.

Clara and Fritz are swept away to a dreamland - the Land of Snow. At this point, Makayla Kanerviko delivered a breathtaking performance as the Snow Queen and student dancers portrayed dancing snowflakes with grace and beauty. Kristin Palazzoli's traditional and detailed costume design enhances the beauty of this wonderfully choreographed dance piece.

The children then go to the Prince's homeland, the Land of Sweets, where local favorite Kameron Tiche - now a principal guest artist based in New York - reprised her role as the Dewdrop Fairy. Tiche's technique, grace, and beauty once again does not disappoint. She is a very accomplished and memorable dancer.

The celebration of different kinds of dances was once again a delightful highlight. Erin Kerwin and Jose Carlos Perez gave a lively and energetic performance as the Chinese lead dancers. Josh Scheirer was hilarious in the role of Mother Ginger especially when he charmed the audience with his animated antics. The student gingerbread cookies made a great impression as soon as they made their grand entrance from under Mother Ginger's skirt (an always memorable set piece by Paul Capotosto). Elizabeth Reagan and Alejandro stole the spotlight as the Arabian leads. Makayla Kanerviko and Jose Carlos Perez delivered a passionate and intricate performance as the Spanish leads.

Alejandro Cobas appeared in the Russian dance. Although this number is usually an audience favorite, his performance was slightly disappointing.

"Waltz of the Flowers" was beautifully performed once again, perfectly showcasing some very beautiful purple costumes that flowed wonderfully across the stage as the student performers moved. The students embodying the flowers and little flowers were flawless.

The Nutcracker has been performed countless times all over the world and the ballet is always a delight around the Holidays. Syracuse City Ballet's annual tradition is a must-see that creates lasting memories. The costumes, the talent, the charm, and the music are but some of the reasons why the Syracuse City Ballet's production of The Nutcracker is an annual tradition that has withstood the test of time. The run is over for this year, but look forward to next year - and the many years to come. Don't miss this crisp and breathtaking ballet by a very devoted and professional ballet company.

Running time: Two hours with one twenty-five-minute intermission.

The Syracuse City Ballet 2018 production of The Nutcracker performed from November 30, 2018 through December 2, 2018 at The Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater. For tickets and information on the Syracuse City Ballet, click here.

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From This Author Natasha Ashley