Countdown for ABT's Nutcracker

Only eight more chances to see Alexei Ratmansky’s Nutcracker at the Brooklyn Academy of Music! Next year it moves to Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. It may not be as kid-friendly as New York City Ballet’s time-honored version, but it has its own beguiling assets—including a goodly dose of humor.

I loved American Ballet Theatre’s new Nutcracker when it opened in 2010 (although I had a few, um, objections). Visually and psychologically it's very three-dimensional. Clara is a real girl, pulled between her fantasy worls and her wish to grow up. The snowflakes swoop and dive and dart, they don't just drift. The big pas de deux entwines and swirls; it doesn't just hit beautiful lines.

Musically Ratmansky doesn’t make the obvious choices that would match Tchaikovsky’s climaxes. He kind of slithers underneath the music. I posted this blog about his way of subverting the crescendos. My advice is to go there not expecting the big moments but enjoying the richness of his subtler relationship to the music—and the surprising places where the funny parts crop up.

Now I’m getting nostalgic I’m a bit sad that this week will be my last viewing of this wonderful Nutcracker.

But hang on: There’s good news for NYC area audiences. This week three of the most magnificent ABT soloists will dance the lead (meaning Clara as a grown-up): Sarah Lane, Misty Copeland—who just received a Dance Magazine Award—and Stella Abrera, the latter two as debuts. I've written about why these three women, each with an unmistakable individualty, are star dancers even though they are still soloists. (If you want to see a clip of both Misty and Sarah Lane dancing at the Awards, click here.)

To buy tickets to this soon-to-take-the-highway-westward Nutcracker, click here — and click here for casting.

Photo: The snow scene from ABT's "Nutcracker." Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.

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