Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”

Danielle Samake:

On December 3, I went to see the New York City Ballet perform George Balachine’s version of The Nutcracker with the Edwards Collective. It was the second time I’ve seen the ballet performed. The first time I saw it, I was about eight years old, and that performance exists in my head as a distant memory, marred by time. Friday night’s performance, however, will live in my mind for quite some time. I was dazzled by the vibrant colors in each scene- from the grand Christmas tree to the Sugarplum fairy, each scene was adorned with beautiful visuals that complemented the beautiful ballet and orchestral performance. My favorite scene was the Candycane dance. I was marveled by the performance of the lead dancer, whose leaps through a standard-size hula hoop should impress even the harshest critics. I challenged myself to simply enjoy the show this evening, but of course there were a few elements that left something to be desired. The cast was more diverse than I’d imagined it would be, but I still hope that one day I’ll be able to attend a ballet and expect representation, and not be surprised by it. It was also a bit unsavory to see “Coffee from Arabia” danced by a white ballerina. However, I understand that representation comes when people of color enter spaces. I hope that performance opportunities of this caliber continue to be made accessible to diverse audiences. I appreciated the opportunity to revisit a childhood memory on Friday, and to make new ones with friends.

Teddy Leane:

Tis the season, and what better way to celebrate than with an Edwards trip to go see the Nutcracker? I’ve been so caught up in finals preparation that I almost hadn’t noticed the holidays were coming up — this was the perfect way to get in the mood.

No two Nutcrackers are alike, and I had never seen the Balanchine/NYC Ballet version before, so it was fun to compare. This was a lavish and beautiful production — the costumes and sets were lovely, and the growing Christmas tree and flying bed were fun touches. My favorite moments were the snow scene (I’ve always loved that music and their rendition, with the snow falling and the dancers skimming through it and leaving patterns on the ground, was beautiful), and the pas de deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier (The leaps! The lifts! The moment where she balanced in arabesque holding his hands, and he pulled her across the floor on the tip of one pointe shoe!!).

The music was intensely nostalgic for me — even though it’s been years, I found myself recognizing every piece as it came on. I need ballet in my life, and the show reminded me of that. I’ve missed a few months of dance classes lately while I’ve been sick, but this morning I finally returned. I listened to the Nutcracker soundtrack on the way over and felt inspired. 🙂