Tag Archives: Garen Scribner

Visual Majesty: Nederlans Dans Theater, Zellerbach Hall, October 24

30 Oct

Getting to Berkeley from San Francisco for a Zellerbach performance is a mixed visual and automotive bag. There’s the afternoon commute getting to the Bridge approach from the slope of Russian Hill to encounter commute traffic, enjoying the low profile of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, before navigating amongst commuters to gain the Ashby exit, then trying for the Zellerbach parking lot. Oops, closed for the renovations. It’s back to the Berkeley parking lot between Durant and Channing,b next, walking to Smart Alec’s on Telegraph and Durant for a trio of quick sandwiches and french fries and then walking the distance to the south side of the Berkeley campus at Telegraph and Bancroft Way.

There’s another surprise – blockage everywhere. No more narrow walkway to the Box Office. Wire barriers, steel poles everywhere, and a closed student union. In the distance is an oblong stretch of cement looking like a pool of steel-hued water in the gathering dusk. It’s a stroll across part of Sproul Plaza scrunching fall leaves to the steps leading down to Zellerbach; even here the space is cordoned off with a few large potted palms to mollify the barriers.

Christina Kellogg is presiding over both nights of Nederlans Dans Theater’s performances. She is joined by Rusty Barnes, new to the Cal Performances staff, after two years handling press and public relations in New Orleans. Mine is the aisle seat next to Toba Singer whose biography on Fernando Alonso is up for an award relating to Latin American history. She uses a small Mac with a covering to mask the sound of the keys and writes notes in the dark while watching a performance. (What an ad for the Apple boys!) The Nederlans company is about to dance two works by Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot, Schnsucht and Schmetterling.

On stage before the lights darken is an object downstage near right that looks like a Korean mask. The curtain opens and we see a square room possessing Parvanch Scharafali and Medhi Walerski, where table and chair are attached to the wall at an angle to the door and the window. The Korean mask unfolds and it is Silas Henriksen, bare to the waist like Walerski.

He reaches with his right arm and it looks ten feet long; when he reaches with his left arm, the stretches are balanced, but his arms remain as distinctive in his tall lean body with sandy, guy-next door face below the mop of wheat-hued hair. He moves in crystal clear ballet vocabulary – attitudes exemplary textbook illustrations. Gradually he moves over to the suspended box where Scharfali and Walerski convey they are a couple. There Henriksen pauses, like a poet conjuring the romance of two individuals.

Anything but harmony plays out in the box, which occasionally turns so that ceiling is floor and floor is ceiling or sides become the floor. The couple’s pas de deux conveys the unevenness of relationship. Walerski once walks out the door while Scharafali is rooted to the table and chair sideways on the wall. Walerski returns before leaving again; there are extended lifts conveying conflicted connections, yearning with some grand jetes, supported lifts along Walerski’s back. With Scharafali mute, Henriksen moves almost in front of the box, conveying, in classical form, anguished realization that romance does not necessarily continue in roseate style. Scharafali ultimately makes her way out of the cube via the window.

The couple dances, as does Henriksen, to the Largo of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C. minor. When the box disappears the full company comes forward to Beethoven’s Fifth in C Minor, Movements III and IV, Allegro and Allegro-Presto. A pretty darned startling choice, for its bombastic force, which I have always felt stirred by, necessitates depersonalization of the dancers in choreographers Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon’ view, exemplified by male and female dancers stripped to the waist, the women’s heads shrouded in black caps. These gorgeous, disciplined dancers engage in reaches, stretches, hip gyrations and torso jerks, notably by Anna Herrmann and Myrthe van Opstal in a pas de deux, and the amazing flexibility and focus of Menghan Lou.

Garen Scribner, Rupert Tookey and Roger Van de Poel, a trio of males, were given fierce grand jetes and tours. It was all very admirable, but listening to Beethoven’s finale accompanied by dance, there are so many semi-finales, stops and starts, glorious musically; choreographically, it either makes you hold your breath or wonder if you can sit still until the final chords get sounded.

During the twenty-minute intermission, the three principals for the second work, Schmetterling, which means butterfly, were seen in extended sequences. The two male roles were repeated by Henriksen and Walerski, but the woman was Ema Yuasa, one of those small, beguiling, utterly concentrated Japanese dancers whose face in repose conveys a thousand emotions rippling through her compact frame. During the intermission she was cloaked with a red garment, for Schmetterling she was white-faced with hair streaked grey.

Walerski appears in the background of a vista of black curtains, broad towards the audience, narrowing to the back. Yuasa skitters in, slightly bent, a woman well on her way to Nirvana. As black-garbed dancers skitter and scamper out and back through the curtains, Walerski lifts, turns and hoists Yuasa in various positions, most of them akimbo, awkward, a statement about situations many women experience in their lifetimes. This extended pas de deux with interludes is danced to songs by The Magnetic Fields from something titled 69/Love Songs, 1999, deliberate contrast to the stage movement, yet oddly complimentary, brimming with catchy lyrics. At the end the black curtains vanish and a panorama of bleak, magnificent hills appear before the sight is revealed to be photographed on curtains gradually closing to stage right.

The audience rose to its feet, whistling, shouting, clapping. Whatever misgivings one might hold choreographically were swept aside with this acknowledgment of a stirring theatrical experience. The manner in which the audience lingered in the lobby in animated discussion was further proof of the experienced stimulus.

Two final comments; Four of the Nederlans dancers have appeared in San Francisco companies; three in Lines – Brett Conway, Prince Credell, Drew Jacoby; the fourth, Garen Scribner is a recent transfer from San Francisco Ballet. Further, Conway, Credell and Scribner have all enjoyed recognition with Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, Credell for Individual Performance, Conway and Scribner for Ensemble and Company Performance. However, only Scribner was featured in the Zellerbach program.

In using the word “majesty,” the adjective is defined as grandeur, ownership; it was clear, to each participant, the dancers of Nederlans Dans Teater fill that description.

Advertisements

Combating Cancer With a Dance Gala, June 6

10 Jun

San Francisco Ballet soloists Garen Scribner and James Sofranko bonded not only with a shared dressing room, but over their concerns regarding cancer.  Scribner was in touch with the Fremont-based research firm, Cancer Prevention Institute of California; the two dancers formed a plan to present a dance gala benefitting the organization June 6 at San Francisco’s Herbst Theater in the Civic Center’s Veterans’ Building.  Two other San Francisco Ballet dancers, Sarah Van Patten and Luke Willis, co-chaired a silent auction.

Scribner-Sofranko enjoyed managerial coaching from SFB’s dance enthusiasts the Pascarellis, plus corporate and individual sponsors to cover production costs, netting $100,000 for the Institute.  Alphabetically, the companies cooperating in the event were: AXIS Dance Company, Ballet San Jose, Amy Siewart’s Im-aj-re, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, ODC/Dance,  Robert Moses’ Kin,  San Francisco Ballet, Smuin Ballet, tinypistol, Zhukov Dance Theater.

The producers arranged a judicious balance of dance genres performed by members of the  eleven Bay Area ensembles. The Gala also served a second important function; the selections  exposed audience members to styles and companies previously seen primarily by die-hard dance lovers  attending everything.  Herbst’s stage is box-like – not exactly the best for dance, though many of local  dance history’s memorable performances occurred in the space.

Yuan Yuan Tan, solicitously partnered by Pierre-Francois Vilanoba, launched the program with the adagio to J.S. Bach’s Concerto No. 5. in Helgi Tomasson’s 2004 ballet 7 for 8.  The lighting did little for either dancer, but Tan’s lingering developpes and arabesques were all there.

Robert Moses’ 1998 solo Descongio found Katherine Wells in little girl white bloomers and tunic dancing to Chopin’s Sonata for cello and piano.  Willowy Wells rendered every shoulder roll or hand gesture assigned with her usual lyricism, though one wonders why each note required a gesture or a quirk.

Alex Ketley’s To Color Me Different, created for Sonsheree Giles and Rodney Bell of AXIS Dance company in 2008, registered the first strong departure in Gala formulas with  Bell’s masterful manipulation of his wheelchair. Giles, with constant flying leaps, seeming to assault Bell, was intense, both demonstrating why the pair earned an Izzie Ensemble Award in 2008.

Junna Ige and Maykel Solas from Ballet San Jose switched emphasis to George Balanchine as Broadway-style  choreographer in his take on “Embraceable You” from the Gershwin-inspired  1970 skillful froth Who Cares.

Maurya Kerr, one-time Alonzo King dancer, combines some of King’s torso inflections, but  manages to make a statement in her ensemble tinypistol.  Here it was Babatunji Johnson in the 2012 Freak Show; she gives her interpreters a total workout.

Sarah Van Pattern evoked the peculiarly haunting Andrew Sisters’ song “I Can Dream Can’t I?”, from Paul Taylor’s 1991 Company B,  backed by Matthew and Benjamin Stewart.

The first half of the Gala ended with Meredith Webster and Zack Tang dancing a pas de deux from Alonzo King’s 2006 ballet The Hierarchical Migration of Birds and Mammals.

K.T. Nelson required Anne Zivolich, dressed in a chic black floor-length gown, to fly all over the stage as well as dust it in the 2005 Shenanigans; Dennis  Adams appeared strategically, moving minimally, all in best fluttering hen to nonchalant  cock tradition.  They got it together,  Zivolich ending up in an odd-angled catch.

Frances Chung and Matthew Stewart continued the duet pattern in a lyrical setting to Robert Schumann music created in 2011 by James Sofranko.

Also created in 2011 was Amy Seiwart’s Divergence interpreted by Roberto Cisneros, now with Sacramento Ballet after wunderkund appearances with Smuin Ballet.

Yuri Zhukov gave the Gala a world premiere, Ember, using Martyn Garside and David Lagerqvist and a spotlight.  First one dancer tracked the other with a rolling spotlight, then spotter and spotted roles reversed, all accented by the swerving light and occasional abrupt blackout.  The men, nude to the waist and in white trousers, eventually confronted each other before a quick blackout.

The Smuin Tango Palace, 2003 brought Jane Rehm and Shannon Hurlburt as the first couple, toying with Hurburt’s fedora, on, off, on to Rehm’s head, off and tossed by Hurlburt, she in an elaborate short, provocative garment, he dressed  George Raft style.  Luscious Robin Cornwell followed with Jonathan Dummer, minus antagonism. Seeing the number on the program, I  hoped the selection would include Smuin’s sizzling male duet; no luck – just two separate couples and the wonderful tango recording.

Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada appeared in Christopher Wheeldon’s 2008 pas de deux Within the Golden Hour, dressed in seafoam blue-green, quite the most costumed dancers in the program with Kochetkova’s head adorned like a ‘Twenties socialite.  Their melting pas de deux to Vivaldi earned a prolonged applause, along with the whistles, shouts and clapping  sprinkled through the program.

An excerpt from the 2011 Light Moves with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company closed the  Gala with its distinct change of pace and energy and Jenkins’ somewhat typical penchant for tussle as a choreographed form of  engagement.

As the dancers all emerged on stage, some already changed for the reception, the audience rendered the best possible recognition, a standing, shouting ovation.  It had been a definite dance high, and it just might become an annual affair.  I can think of other ensembles to be considered.

Eastern Odyssey, a film by Quinn Wharton

20 Apr

This mostly interesting film received its visual premiere Monday night, April 16, at the Vogue Theatre, Sacramento Street near Presidio in San Francisco;  it covers the two performance appearance June 2011 in Tiit Helimets’ native Estonia with a company he assembled from San Francisco Ballet, Ballet San Jose and Milwaukee Ballet. The presentation was facilitated by Deborah du Bouwy, the force behind the dance documentary series, Words on Dance.

Obviously a work of dedication and affection, it suffers from some technical difficulties and the filmmaker’s “inside” view; he’s a member of San Francisco Ballet. It does emphasize Helimets narrating how his dream received its chance to be realized and commenting on his necessary shift in focus from  self- centered artist to leader responsible for the direction and execution of the ensemble’s brief tour.

One of the most obvious problems was the use of white print for explanatory passages; fine when the background was sufficiently dark, but maddening when light or pastel shades tended to wash out the text.  Another was the uneven nature of the musical score when the sound frequently overwhelmed the visuals, instead of underscoring the action.  This is something  a better sound mix can adjust.

Almost before we see Tiit Helimets interviewed about the genesis of the project we are confronted with backstage images which ultimately seem to have nothing to do with the tour. Wharton later mentioned he had been influenced by some catchy commercials.  We listen to Helimets’ describing the genesis of the film and are introduced to the dancers and the four supporting players. Besides Helimets, the San Francisco dancers were Frances Chung, Nicole Cioppini,  Daniel Deivison-Oliveira,  Sasha de Sola, James Sofranko, Sarah Van Patten; Ballet San Jose dancers Jeremy Kovitch and Alexsandra Meijer; from Milwaukee Ballet  Julianne Kepley and Joshua Reynolds.  Val Caniparoli was the choreographer; his ballet Ibsen Suite was part of the repertoire.  Katita Waldo was ballet mistress, Dan McGary company manager, Jane Green stage manager, Michael Leslie physical therapist.  The entire roster was clearly and nicely identified.

From what I glimpsed Balanchine’s Apollo, Tarantella, and Le Corsaire were on the repertory roster in addition to Ibsen Suite; what else was rehearsed or performed was not easily determined, nor did we enjoy strains of the appropriate music. The program sequence, presumably the same in both cities where the ensemble performed, was not clarified, footage shifting forward and back in kaleidoscopic fashion.

It might have been a salient addition to include more of Helimets as Apollo with his three Muses;  if the role switches actually occurred this needed  to be clear.

Pre-performance rituals, makeup, toe shoe lineup, hair arrangement , warm up, along with muscular mishaps helped to create the atmosphere of tension caused by the unexpected. Helimets’ cool under fire was nicely depicted, as well as his incredibly straight back and pointed feet.

The initial rehearsal venue, one of the major studios of Ballet San Jose, could have been identified.   The Amsterdam airport was prominent as the transfer point for the plane to Tallin, Estonia, part of the most engaging footage in the documentary.  Wharton lingered on this transition, catching qualities of the dancers admirably. Understandably, clinking of beer glasses played their role, and one or two clowning sequences of the ensemble on narrow cobblestone streets.

In the Q & A following the showing, presided over by Garen Scribner, Katita Waldo gave observations which could have been touched upon in the film. (She’s a woman for all seasons.) One was the quality of Tallin’s historic center as one of Europe’s  best preserved medieval cities.  The other involved the differing operation of a small ensemble from a large company relating to costume maintenance.

Tiit Helimets provided valuable information when he disclosed using San Francisco Ballet tour organization format as a model: information, tour guide, ticketing, etc. Inclusion of this information would be salient; in one or two instances we got  a glimpse but no explanation.

Wharton mentioned his problem with the cost of music rights with popular songs used in the documentary’s current form.  The music supplied by his friend seemed far more adequate than the distracting tunes several decibels too loud.

Whether or not Wharton decides to revise the current documentary, carved out of seventy hours of videotape, Eastern Odyssey is an admirable first effort. A lot  depends on where he wishes to take his footage. Seeking an outsider’s view and plotting out his editing with the aid or a story board, will advance   Wharton’s  admirable dance doumcentary debut considerably.

San Francisco Ballet’s Program II, February 14 and 19

26 Feb

Moving to two programs of three one-acts from full-length as opener,  San Francisco Ballet’s  programming is gauging story ballets’  value to pull audiences in to the variety programs.  Judging by the two  Program II performances, it seems to be working.

With Wayne MacGregor’s Chroma, the premiere of Mark Morris’ Beaux and Christopher Wheeldon’s Nine in Program II, the company displayed three contemporary choreographers whose patterns and  diagrams provide distinct, differing moods.

On first glance last season and again this season, MacGregor’s Chroma displays parallels with  San Francisco choreographer Alonzo King but with two salient exceptions: MacGregor’s casts look each other in the eye, making connection, and the akimbo body movements are direct, more  forward moving than King’s, where  vibrato leads up to a posture, a lift or a plunging, supported arabesque possesses a distinctly jazz-like riff on a main theme. Also, MacGregor’s women dance in soft slippers, instead of pointe shoes. Moritz Junge’s flesh-like toned costumes were modest, if short, sleeveless slouchy tee-shirts over trunks.

The dancers appear before a neutral lit backdrop, framed, stepping over to dance before stalking off mostly to stage left or going to mid center on the same side or appearing again in the frame. Duos and trios start out singly, later dancing simultaneously when all ten dancers become frantically engaged at the finale.

In the first cast Pascal Molat and Frances Chung led off with the initial athletic pas de deux, but a model of tempered sensuality. Anthony Spaulding’s leading leg thrust up in jetes, a signature touch, while Maria Kochetkova affirmed her acrobatic training. Taras Domitro, Jaime Garcia Castilla and Isaac Hernandez adapted to the off balance style and  Garen Scribner made his movement seem geometric.

In the second cast Vito Masseo and Sofiane Sylve continued their  remarkable partnership; Daniel Deivision  his kinesthetic delivery; Sarah Van Patten her consistently strong attack. Koto Ishihara and Tiit Helimets lent strong visual contrast, Vanessa Zahorian’s musicality subdued by the choreographic demands.

Mark Morris’ Beaux chose nine male dancers to dance to Martinu’s Harpsichord Concerto. Exaggerated color spots by Isaac Mizrahi on both backdrop and the sleeveless unitard shorts for the dancers, showed off the finely-tuned male musculature handsomely, though the colored daubs did distract  This ballet possesses a similar timbre as Morris’ “A Garden,” something pleasant, seemingly off-hand, but actually sly, complex.

Morris used twos, threes, and quartets in phrases one normally associates with women, particularly women in a Balanchine ballet. Eschewing virtuoso turns, jumps, pirouettes, he relied on an
occasional gesture suggesting comraderie, mixing principal dancer and corps member  equally. The ensemble paused like men at a fancy ball, minus formal attire, though slight, enormously subtle.

Vito Mazzeo stood out like a signal tower,  Molat for his double duty for two consecutive ballets along with Castilla, and Joan Boada for his willingness to merge as part of the ensemble.

Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine launched with the sense of British martial music. With the startling ending where the women lept into the men’s arms, four sets of principals and eight pairs of corps members, Michael Torke’s score reeks of spit, polish, formations and parade grounds .  The dancers wore a yellow worthy of Van Gogh’s Provencal canvases, Holly Hynes echoing the ambiance by covering, rather than exposing the women’s bodies. Full strength was the order of the ballet with Dores Andres, Sofiane Sylve, SarahVan Patten, and Vanessa Zahorian joining Daniel Deivison, Vito Mazzeo, Ruben Martin Cintas and Garden Scribner rising to the occasion as if Admiral Nelson had sent an off stage signal, “England Expects Every Man To Do His Duty.”

This front and center delivery was repeated February 19 with Elana Altman, Frances Chung, Maria Kochetkova and Yuan Yuan Tan, partnered by Pascal Molat, Gennadi Nedvigin, Carlos Quenedit and Anthony Spaulding. In a first glimpse of  Quenedit, he presented himself as calm, cheerful with effortlessly good partnering skills.

It will be fascinating to see what Quenedit does with his assignment in Yuri Possokhov’s Francesca da Rimini.

San Francisco Ballet’s Gala, January 19, 2012

21 Jan

Helgi Tomasson  knows how to assemble a Gala, mixing charm, bravura, substance, sweetness and, where necessary, pathos and high jinks.

Despite the rain after two months of mild sunlit days, the atmosphere in San Francisco’s Opera House was warm .  Chair of the Board of Trustees , John  Osterweis made the usual  opening remarks, mentioning  the Gala was dedicated to F. Warren Hellman’s memory.  He “went off script” to say  Chris and Warren Hellman had recruited him to the Board  twenty-five years ago and that San Francisco Ballet would not be the company today without  Hellman’s involvement.

The ten item program included six pas de deux, two male numbers, one solo, and the finale ensemble. To commence both halves of the program, Tomasson  featured the company’s strong contingent of men,  opening with Yuri Possokhov’s ensemble from Sergei Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony with Jaime Garcia Castilla, Diego Cruz, Isaac Hernandez, Steven Morse, Benjamin and Matthew Stewart. Separated from the women, the glimpse showed several striking devices;  initially silhouetted, the men  bounded across the stage like young stags, singly, successively and simultaneously and pirouettes executed with arms en haut.

The second half opened with Hans Van Manen’s Solo, a trio of male dancers last seen  when  Peter Brandenhoff, Stephen Legate and  Yuri Possokhov shared their farewell to SFB.  This trio included  Gennadi Nedvigin, Garen Scribner and Hansuke Yamamoto, in reverse order. Van Manen makes the three  prance, jump, wiggle and gesture with increasing complexity to J.S. Bach’s Violin Suite No. 1 in D Minor. Yamamoto was fleet, a bit laconic, Scribner contained , and Nedvigin covered territory like a comic in a Moiseyev  suite.

With Sarah Van Patten, Tiit Helimets, Pascal Molat danced in the scruffy red and blue death figure costume from David Bintley’s The Dance House. Van Patten and Helimets sculpted their roles to the Shostakovich music.

Damian Smith in red tights and white mask danced Val Caniparoli’s Aria, music by Handel.  Smith,  gesturing masterfully in commedia del arte tradition.

Three pas de deux followed ;  Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan with Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky’s pas de deux; Sofiane Sylve and Vito Mazzeo in Christopher Wheeldon’s Continuum, topped off by the Flames of Paris pas de deux with Frances Chung and Taras Domitro.

The Zahorian-Karapetyan rendition of roles created by Violette Verdy and Conrad Ludlow in 1960 differed by size and cultural nuance.  Zahorian’s longer limbs stretched the phrasing from Verdy’s accents, but the choreography was served admirably and Karapetyan partnered his new wife solicitously.  Sylve moved around Mazzeo like a vine expanding tendrils, beginning and finishing with each meeting the other with touching  palms, executed with spare deliberation.  It fell to Domitro  to dance the role created by Chabukiani in Flames of Paris; Domitro added his insouciant habit of pointed foot rising in his grand jetes.  Frances Chung polished her soubrette assignment with crisp pirouettes and traveling  multiple fouettes.

The evening’s greatest charm arrived with Sir Frederick Ashton’s Voices of Spring, Maria Kochetkova spewing rose petals, held aloft by Joan Boada, an ineffable nosegay to  Johann Strauss II’s  melody.  Ashton was a remarkable poet in his ability to depict the essence of a culture, a theme or music.

Yuan Yuan Tan was partnered by Hamburg Ballet’s Alexander Riabko in Lady of the Camellias, John Neumeier’s overwrought rendition to Chopin’s Ballade. The choice of music was overly long and required excessive repetition, calling attention to the repetition and not to the love story. Close to home, Val Caniparoli has created a similar pas de deux seen with Diablo Ballet, much  tighter and closer to the story.

The Gala finished with an excerpt from Christopher Wheeldon’s Number Nine, created for the company in 2011, a work  British spit and polish in its wing-like formations. Four pairs of soloists and eight pairs of supporting corps de ballet exhibited  women with bent knee and arabesque held aloft. In executing similar striking formations, the stage was a bit too busy for all out admiration.

Involving nearly half the company for the finale is a typical Helgi Tomasson  completion for  this consistently interesting Gala..

San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker December 9

12 Dec

With San Francisco Ballet’s  handsome setting,Nutcracker time brings San Francisco audiences a nostalgia trip to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition  A cast familiar with their roles made the company’s  Nutcracker opening  warm and comfortable, almost as familial as those occupying the scarlet seats.

There was Val Caniparoli, jumping with elan at appropriate moments displaying the gusto of  Her Drosselmeyer with a hand flourish here, there, with eyes steady on the mark. Ricardo Bustamonte and Pascale LeRoy as the Stahlbaum parents were socially savvy and practiced while the grandparents Jorge Esquivel and Anita Paciotti reminded us old age still harbors youthful urges plus more than a smidgeon of elan.

For dancing dolls the Jack-in-the-Box requires a extremely limber male and soloist Garen Scribner fulfilled the role’s profile with supple back bends and final split. Clara Blanco has danced the beruffled pink doll almost since joining the company; stiffness of arm, rigid torso bend, cocked foot, awkward head movement with stock rigid kisses were honed to perfection. Daniel Baker’s Nutcracker was blessed with a strong, springy jump; his jab with the flimsy sword delighted the boys at the party.

The fight scene, with the sideboard magnified to allow the toy cannon and horses to emerge, seemed particularly lively, the mice pugilistic, muscle-demonstrating. Daniel Deivison as The Mouse King was particularly grandiose, gesturing to his troops, making slit throat gestures to The Nutcracker.  Nicole Finken’s Clara guided the mousetrap towards the monarch’s leg, enabling The Nutcracker to rise from the floor, delivering the fatal thrust.  The ruler’s final moments were a paean worthy of any melodrama before he frissoned into the orchestra pit.

The snow scene was nearly a blizzard before Vanessa Zahorian danced her final finger turns supported by Davit Karapetyan, both delivering stylish performances. The corps assignment, dance in a winter’s setting, possessed none of the swoop and swirl Lew Christensen gave the scene, nature reflected in dance.

From behind the mask and tunic Gennadi Nedvigin emerged with classic simplicity, total turnout, effortless elevation and unaffected courtesy. Following intermission his account of the battle was testimony to his Bolshoi training, flowing, easily comprehended, given full measure.  You wanted to get up and cheer; in Frances Chung’s Sugar Plum Fairy he enjoyed authoritative listening.
The flowers for the waltz as well as the insects gathered to hear the story, one of the few moments where the evocation of the Conservatory of Flowers looked occupied.  Despite moving the sleigh/grandstand seating to various positions, the stage image was bare, almost uninviting, although Anatole Vilzak’s Russian variation momentarily filled the void, led by an exuberant Pascal Molat with Daniel Baker and Benjamin Stewart.

Also invigorating were the men in the Spanish variation led by Isaac Hernandez with Diego Cruz and Francisco Mungamba with the posturing Dana Genshaft and Courtney Elizabeth flipping skirt hems and fans in elegant style..

Maria Kochetkova emerged from the kiosk as the transformed Clara, diffident, wide-eyed over her sudden change in size, costume and body contour.  She made  the pas de deux with Nedvigin an exploration, acknowledging him as a guide and protector, yet an authoritative interpretation, serene and sure. Their mutual  Bolshoi schooling was an added bond, making a consistent  presentation, a grand, unaffected simplicity, aware of themselves in space, a rare, satisfying spectacle.