two centuries ago (1816), E.T.A. Hoffmann published his story,
"Nutcracker and Mouse King." Much later (1892), it served as the
inspiration for Peter Tchaikovsky's magnificent score for the ballet,
Ballet Theater's (JMBT) version of The Nutcracker is characterized by
what the dance group calls "simplicity and dynamism." Their
interpretation of this classic holiday piece (now 26 years for JMBT) is
magical, sensual and satisfying, providing a focus both on drama – the
story – and the dance that brings it to life. In Dorchester's Strand
Theatre Dec 20-22, 2013.
Get Ready to be Transported
Before the ballet begins, do yourself a favor and read "The Nutcracker
story" included in the program booklet to learn more about the
relationships among the key players including Clara, the magician, the
rat King, the mice, the soldiers and the many dancers from the Kingdom
of the Sweets.
opening moments of the ballet, Dr. Drosselmeyer's magic, his
come-to-life dolls and my fear for Clara at the presence of so many
mice, pulled me onto stage, and I became part of the ongoing story.
When Clara slays the Rat King, an act so simply and quickly committed,
I stood on stage (sat in my seat) in awe. Sweet Clara, the young
protagonist, had committed an act of defiance and preservation.
"Who slew the Rat King?" None of the people sitting close to me could
answer this question. No one had noticed Clara's bravery. Stay
alert or you could easily miss Clara saving her prince.
What brings so many families to see The Nutcracker, season after
season, is its ability to draw all ages vicariously onto the
stage. Indeed, from the preschooler through teen years, young
dancers are essential to this production. The youngest dancers
appear to be the little boys attending the party, some of whom "trip
dance" on stage, looking like they are doing their best to pretend to
dance and drawing us into wanting to hug them. ("You are soooo
December 12, 2013 production in Cambridge, one mom talked about her
daughter's history with The Nutcracker and Jose Mateo. Daughter
started out as a little mouse then became a child of Mother Ginger
hidden in her skirt and finally graduated into her current role as one
of the niftiest looking characters on stage, a soldier. In the
Boston area we can look back on our years in grade school and middle
school but some of us also get to look back on our growth through dance
companies such as José Mateo.
Doing the Honors
Predictably, the audience claps for its favorite divertissements in the
Kingdom of the Sweets, especially the Russian "trepek" dance, Mother
Ginger with her thousand children under her skirt and all of the dances
where the music speaks to us as a permanent part of our music
repertoire possibly more than the dancers.
the child angel, so beautifully dressed, who walks to front center
stage, stays but moments then leaves and, later on, returns. Who
is she? What does she represent? Not adding action to the
story, perhaps she is present to add a blessing to the dancers and to
the Jose Mateo dance group.
of dancers deserve special recognition. Unlike typical ballet where the
male dancer's role is to support the leading female dancer, the Arabian
Coffee dancers were so sensually entwined they were inseparable,
neither one dominating, both dependent on each other fully at all
times. Watch as the male dancer moves his hands across the female
dancer's body, atypical of traditional ballet.
noteworthy mention is for the quality of the closing dancers in the
Grand Pas De Deux - the Sugarplum Fairy (Angie DeWolf) and her partner,
the Cavalier (Spencer Doru Keith). At no other point in the
ballet had I noticed a pair of dancers demonstrating this level of
perfection in their form. Yes, while both dancers were on stage, the
Cavalier provided a supportive role for his partner, the Sugarplum
Fairy, solo dances followed that arrayed the skills of both.
On the way
out, I looked for someone to whom I could express my praise for the
entire production but especially for the Grand Pas de Deus, someone
associated with the ballet company. A sequence of "No, not me's"
eventually led to one woman who was willing to listen. I said to
her, almost breathlessly: "The two dancers at the close of the ballet
gave such wonderful performances. (and on and on)" So absorbed in
talking, I barely heard her say: "That was my daughter,
Angie." I stopped, thinking I had died and gone to heaven.
Suddenly, Angie's mom and I shared an intimacy created by the artistic
capabilities of her daughter. "Will you please tell her and her
Cavalier how much I loved their dancing." I gave her a great big
Mateo Ballet Theatre performs on the Strand Theatre stage in
Dorchester, Friday - Sunday, December 20-22, 2013.
Click here for ticket information.
About Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre
Founded in 1986, José Mateo Ballet Theatre is one of America's leading
producers of new ballets, the area's most innovative ballet school, and
the originator of Dance for World Community™, a project that builds
local and global networks to expand the role of dance in our
culture. Over the past 28 years, Cuban-born Artistic Director and
Founder, José Mateo has developed his unique vision using the power of
dance to inspire and engage today's diverse audiences.
Hailed by Boston magazine as "Best of Boston 2011 Dance Performance",
the Company regularly presents Mateo's highly acclaimed concerts at its
stunning Sanctuary Theatre in its home at Old Cambridge Baptist Church
in Harvard Square. The School offers an innovative model for a
high-quality academy with a humanistic approach to ballet training that
fosters diversity and inclusion at both its Cambridge campus and
Duxbury satellite program.
Dance for World Community™ makes dance accessible to thousands of
children, families, and new audiences, and produces the annual Dance
for World Community Festival, a two-day event that features
performances by over 70 local dance groups, workshops, classes, and
advocacy that celebrates the role of dance to create social
change. Learn more about José Mateo Ballet Theatre at www.ballettheatre.org.
|Posted: December 19,2013 Nancy J Conrad
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