Pennsylvania Ballet


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania Ballet

A Colonial-City Nutcracker with Perfect Trimmings

December 10, 2006 - By Brad Maxwell

Nut_sold_300dPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania -- Home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the most historic square mile in the country.  It's a city known for the people who have walked its streets like:  George Washington; Betsy Ross; Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.  It's the birthplace of The Bill of Rights and The Constitution of the United States.  It's in this great city where we find one of our greatest ballets.  The Pennsylvania Ballet presents The Nutcracker at The Academy of Music, Saturday, December 9 through December 31. 

The Pennsylvania Ballet's George Balanchine Nutcracker is a holiday masterpiece that's as beautiful as the perfect Christmas tree.  Every performer in the show, young and old, dance wonderfully and with vibrant smiles.  The Costumes and sets are magnificent and the choreography is expressive and moving.  But what really makes it special is the way the Pennsylvania Ballet ties it all together with transitions that are choreographed with perfect timing and the creative use of light, scrims and special effects. 

Scene I begins in the hallway, with the parents in the parlor and the kids waiting in the hall peeking through the keyhole (partially transparent scrim) to spy on the party.  The children come in and begin dancing as the fathers and sons surprise the ladies with corsages on pink pillows.  Drosselmeier has a colonial look with gray hair, dressed in back satin breeches, silver knee-high stockings, buckle shoes and a black velvet coat with tails and golden buttons.  He's a magical Drosselmeier presenting his harlequin and soldier dolls.  Fritz's shenanigans lead the boys to a tug -of-war with the girls over a stick horse and they all tumble over.   The party ends and Marie sneaks downstairs to visit with the Nutcracker and then falls asleep on the couch.

As Marie dreams, Drosselmeier appears on the clock magically bringing the soldiers to life to fight the scurrying mice.  The spectacular Christmas tree begins flashing its brilliant lights in front of snowy trimmed windows highlighted by the lightning outside.  The tree grows huge as the party scene set flies off in every direction making you feel as though you are shrinking.  As the battle ends, Marie rides the Nutcracker's bed around the stage and off into a snowy forest of Snowflake dancers.  The transitions are absolutely stunning, with perfect timing and magical lighting.

The Snow Scene is an artistic masterpiece, with a stage that is surrounded by a forest of large-boughed snow covered trees lighted in blues and greens.  There is a constant snowfall as the Snowflake dancers swirl across the forest in fluffy-white costumes holding puffy-white snowflake wands.  If this isn't beautiful enough, the orchestra is enhanced by a spectacular performance of The Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale.  Nut_Pas_300dThis is simply the most amazing Snow Scene ever!  It fills your senses with the beauty of a snowy wonderland and fills your heart with an unforgettable Christmas memory.

Act II opens with a cast of young Angels dressed in white with gold wings circling the stage as if floating on air. The divertissements are traditional and each have lead dancers who accentuate the others.  Ten Chocolate dancers, dressed in browns and burgundy, lunge and spin with a Spanish flair.  The beautiful Arabian-like Coffee dances with finger cymbals, followed by two Tea dancers who pull a leaping dancer out of a box.  Nine red striped Candy Canes leap through their candy cane hoops and the lovely Shepherdesses with flutes dance with a dainty sweetness.  The Waltz of Flowers are dressed in delicate pink costumes with green bodices presenting a magical garden of swaying flowers that is simply breathtaking.  The Grand Pas de Duex is performed by Amy Aldridge, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and James Ady, as her Cavalier.  A magnificent pairing of grace and style, who are simply wonderful to watch.

The Pennsylvania Ballet presents a Colonial-city Nutcracker trimmed like the perfect Christmas tree.  It's a spectacular combination of talented dancers, beautiful sets, amazing transitions and the superb music of the Orchestra of the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale.


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