The New York Theatre Ballet Danced Into Holstein
by Christine Wiese-
Tchaikovsky’s beloved classic, The Nutcracker, was performed in Holstein’s Clausen Center by the New York Theatre Ballet last Sunday afternoon. Those who were captured by its magic ranged in age from barely four to nearly ninety seven. Pre-K or geriatric – it didn’t matter. The line between what is and what might be came close to being erased during those 70 minutes.
This was a delightfully defanged and pared down version of the original. Defanged on account of the “scare your pants off” Mouse King had been cleverly transformed into a Queen who met her demise partly by becoming entangled in her own tail. Pared down because time was compressed to meet a child’s (as well as some adults’) minimilistic attention spans.
The story was masterfully told by the use of an outsized clock, a similarly enlarged picture frame, and a ceramic Christmas tree. Dancers emerged from, danced through, and twirled around these objects. The audience sat enthralled. Young ones perched on the edge of their seats and gazed in wonder at the pageant on stage. Their elders were wrapped up in their own particular brand of suspended disbelief.
The Nutcracker came to life; the battle raged; the snowflakes danced. Maria and her Prince were as carefree as the frost that preceded them and he was handsome and she was beautiful.
Drosselmeyer, creator of the Nutcracker, was wound up by the Tick Tocks. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier came on stage accompanied by The Divertissements – Spanish, Arabian Shadows, Chinese Chopsticks, Russian Boules (Tick Tocks bouncing on big red bouncy balls), the Harlequins, the Shepherdess and her adorable little lambs. These diversions could easily have been seen as an early 20th Century version of our modern day “Happy Dance”. A person couldn’t help but smile.
Then came the much anticipated “Waltz of the Flowers”. It was so glorious the audience responded with waves of applause.
However, the piece de resistance had to have been “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”. She and her partner danced with such grace, it is futile to describe it. It would be like trying to teach fish to swim – entirely redundant.
The finale with everyone on stage was a light-hearted cavort – a happy go
lucky end to an enchanted afternoon.
What a way to bring in the Christmas season. We couldn’t have asked for
anything better. As one lady said after shaking all the cast members’ hands, “I just had to thank them for bringing this to Holstein.”.
Once again, kudos to the Clausens and The Foundation for making their trip here possible.