Monthly Archives: December 2011

Review: 2011 San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker

Val Caniparoli in Tomasson's Nutcracker. © Erik Tomasson

Nutcracker season has begun! And what would the holidays be without it? Seriously, for me this year was one of the first years in a long time where I really thought I wouldn’t be able to make it – chalk it up to the hardest rotation in my third year of medical school so far in addition to planning my own wedding next week! – but during the one free night that I had, I squeezed in an evening with friends mere hours after my final exam. And it was totally worth it!! It was a magical evening, and I believe I was smiling the entire time. The magic of this production never fades, year after year, and I’m still convinced it’s one of the finest productions of the Nutcracker in the world.

I had a different viewpoint this time, watching from above in the second balcony, and the view is amazing even from up there as well.

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In the snow scene, the awe-inspiring falling snow literally piles up in seconds before your eyes, and the additional geometric formations of the dancers’ feet making pretty trails in the snow is an added effect to the formation of bodies onstage. It’s an effect I never noticed from the ground floor before. The only down side is that the grandiose scope of the sets are lost on the audience up there.

And how great is it to experience your friends’ experiencing ballet and the Nutcracker for the first time, and loving it?? They laughed through the hilarious and flamboyant Mouse King (danced with delicious flourish by Daniel Deivison) and admired the impeccably trained children of the San Francisco Ballet school, dancing with that certain joy and that charm that only children have.

Mariellen Olson in Tomasson's Nutcracker. © Erik Tomasson

The highlights of the show for me were Dana Genshaft and Vitor Luiz as Snow Queen and King, dancing with a crystal clarity that translated all the way up to the second balcony. There was a soaring delicacy to their dancing which was perfect for the snow scene. WanTing Zhao made a knockout of an Arabian Coffee, my first time seeing her onstage, which left me scrambling for my program to identify the dancer. Her extensions are gorgeous, and there was an uncanny way of following through every movement with her hands and her feet that was so gorgeous. She took all the time in the world, unfolding herself in oozing sensuality and teasing the audience behind hidden hands. The Russian are always popular, and Daniel Baker with Diego Cruz and Geraud Wielick gave their all in a rousing performance. Frances Chung danced with all the joy in the world and a magnanimous warmth in her expansive movements. Vanessa Zahorian and Joan Boada were the reigning king and queen in the Grand Pas de Deux in a sparkling finale. Joan Boada has never looked better, dancing with a fluidity and an ease in his jumps and lovely deep landings. Vanessa Zahorian sailed through the Grand Pas de Deux with an easy flair and a regal elegance – has that girl ever fallen out of a turn? – which was thrilling to watch. Alyssa Peter also gave a lively performance as the lovely Clara. Also, a shoutout to the conductor for the evening, Ming Luke, who kept a good pace throughout the program which made the first and second acts clip by in a whirlwind of whimsy and fantasy. The orchestra also sounded cohesive, and I can’t stress how much I love

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having live music.

Maria Kochetkova and Gennadi Nedvigin in Tomasson's Nutcracker. © Erik Tomasson

Basically, go see it!! Performances end on December 27. Click here for more information. Also check out the SF Ballet’s Facebook page; they’ve been having quite a few giveaways and discounts lately.

Did anybody see the PBS showing of the SF Ballet’s Little Mermaid? Just curious about what people thought, I would have seen it if I wasn’t at the Nutcracker.