Performing to a packed audience last Friday as part of the On Stage at Kingsborough dance series at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, the dancers made their only New York show quite memorable to all ages. Forty of Russia’s brightest ballet dancers performed impeccably with whimsical, sublime costumes.
They easily transformed the stage into the little girl, Masha’s, fantasy world filled with fairies, princes, toy soldiers, and the mice army.
The ballet starts with guests arriving and enjoying a holiday party thrown by the Stahlbaum family. Drosselmeier, the magician-like god father, presents the children with the unique life-like toys and Clara is immediately drawn to the sophisticated Nutcracker. After the guests have gone home and the Stahlbaum children are left to play with some of the toys, Masha’s brother Frantz, ends up breaking Masha’s Nutcracker, which also breaks her art. Her movement is so effective that we feel the pain along with her.
The Nutcracker helps to defeat the mouse army who have been battling toy soldiers in a scene that seems never ending compared to the otherwise fast paced show. As Masha and the Nutcracker traveled through the winter forest and into the Land of the Sweets, the show truly pulled together.
The snowflakes dancing around the Nutcracker in the pine forest after he is transformed into a handsome prince is visually stunning, capturing the glitzy side to winter.
But highlight of the show was the Land of the Sweets where dancers took on a more abstract presentation to represent sweets from around the world.
While the dancers representing chocolate from Spain gave a sultry performance, and the dancers representing tea from China gave a jolly collaboration, the dancers representing coffee from Arabia were intoxicating with a series of ballet lifts throughout the night.
Overall, dancers Alexey Burakov, Drosselmeier, and Vladimir Russu, Nutcracker, were standouts from the beginning to the end. But, of course, Polina Tokareva’s Masha was the belle of the ballet.
While some aspects of the performance seemed a bit too repetitive, such as the interchanges of dance between Masha and the Nutcracker, as well as the scenes with the Mouse King and the Nutcracker, the performance was an absolute treat.
The traveling set design throughout the show remained simple but persuasive. The entire story is told through the various dances and Pyotr Tchaikovsky's wondrous score. This professional performance of "The Nutcracker" was nearly flawless, and gave this American audience a taste of classic Russian ballet.
If and when The State Ballet Theatre of Russia returns, it is definitely worth the visit.