Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ballet Austin's 44th Annual Nutcracker

Editor's note: So, I took down my rant about the spilled salad. I should have focused on how nice the one or two people were who tried to help, rather than the losers who stood and stared. It isn't much, but it's a start...

I've written about my feelings on The Nutcracker both here and here. So you can certainly imagine my trepidation as I walked with my friend to our seats. The last time we were there, 14 years ago, I saw "twinkle fingers!" [insert involuntary shudder here].

Well, lo and behold, when the orchestra began playing the overture, I felt the familiar trembling of nerves inside. I was imagining the cast back behind the curtain, waiting for it all to begin, listening to the rising strains of the music as it hit its crescendo and then ending, thus cuing the curtain to rise... I was right there with them. All of them.

Then the curtain did rise and the show began. I won't go into all the details, but there were a couple of high and low points for me...

I was impressed by the skill of most of the dancers. I enjoyed the choreography of both the snow scene and the waltz of the flowers. The Arabian number was a bit over the top, but the dancers pulled it off well.

Overall, the flow between the scenes was a little halting for my taste, and I felt that the pace of the party scene was definitely too slow and boring at times. Then, after the battle scene is over, and the Nutcracker Prince takes Clara through the land of snow to get to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, well, I didn't buy into it. Clara and her Prince are supposed to be in the picture a bit more than just at the beginning. The snowflakes actually guide the couple through the land. The least they could do is make a cameo appearance at the end of the act.

The music was incredible. I thought that the Austin Symphony sounded so together, in tune, and on time that they could have been a recorded version. They got it. They were, at the risk of repeating myself, incredible.

My favorite part is the final act. They pulled it off and did it well. The rose did her job beautifully. Sometimes a solo performance or role (without the man) showcases great talent. It did so last night. I didn't see her miss a beat.

Oh, and there is one universal truth no matter which Nutcracker you may see, no matter where it is performed... The little plastic snowflakes that fall during the snow scene are slippery little devils! Someone *always* slips!

All-in-all, I proved to myself that I can sit and watch someone else perform it. I may not like all of the bits and pieces separately, but as a whole, it didn't suck. It was quite good. And it made me miss Mrs. Baucum, my former instructor, more than anything. Last night was a trip down memory lane for me... It was beautiful and I'm glad I went.

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