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Review of Boston Ballet's Nutcracker by Emma Chin '14

Members of Ms. Rice’s Advanced Dance Theatre Workshop class traveled to Boston on November 30 to enjoy a production of the Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House. Below is a review of the show by Emma Chin ’14.

Mikko Nissienen’s Nutcracker by the Boston Ballet on November 30th 2012 was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Performed at the Boston Opera House in downtown Boston, the 7.30pm show included Lia Cirio, Misa Kuranaga and Jeffrey Cirio as the night’s principal roles. Nissienen’s revised version featured stunning new sets, choreography and arrangement, though careful to remain true to the original production based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutracker and the Mouse King.

The ballet as a whole featured all the classic sections of the original Nutcracker, however, the choreography of the solos, pas de deux and corps de ballet parts were unique to the Boston Ballet. These included the Sugar Plum Fairy variation, as well as the array of dances presented to Clara such as the Indian-inspired piece and Russian trio. Also noticeable was a comical element to the performance; Nissienen incorporated new parts that appealed to the audience’s humor, including a giant dancing bear that popped out of a box much to the audience’s delight, as well as five white sheep and one ‘outcast’ black sheep that clearly drew on the audience’s amusement.

The Snow King and Queen pas de deux drew the greatest awe; the lengthy choreography featured challenging lifts and turns that required great skill, as well as a considerable amount of coordination between the two dancers. It was performed superbly; the dancers’ clean technique, virtuosity and stage presence were quite unlike any other. Another great piece that filled the audience with admiration was the Indian-inspired piece, part of the series of dances presented to Clara. The choreography featured elements of great technical virtuosity, with lifts that went far beyond the conventional Ballet vocabulary—for instance, the female dancer was held in a split upside-down, and then proceeded to seamlessly shift into an equally challenging fishtail dive. The dancers made these incredibly difficult movements look effortless, and this was truly the most admirable part. Lastly, the Sugar Plum Fairy variation performed by Lia Cirio was beautiful to watch. Cirio moved across the stage swiftly and each movement seamlessly transitioned into another, all while keeping a fantastic stage presence and artistry.

Like all major productions by large-scale Ballet companies, the set for Mikko Nissienen’s Nutcracker was grand and elaborate. The backdrop featured rich colors such as gold, green, red and magenta, and the largest prop, the Christmas tree, was adorned with a multitude of ornaments, glittering brightly in the light. The awe-inspiring set truly drew the audience in closer. Equally stunning were the costumes, the intricate details and clever choice of colors to complement each other really helped to boost the external element of the ballet as a whole. Though every single dancer, including the corps de ballet, had immense technical and artistic ability, Misa Kuranaga stood out the most. Her role in the Snow Queen pas de deux was the highlight of that night’s experience. Kuranaga’s remarkable technicality, ability to transition smoothly between swift and fast to gentle and fluid movements, all while keeping musical artistry and stage presence, truly made her stand out the most among all the other dancers. She was spectacular.

Mikko Nissienen’s Nutcracker by the Boston Ballet carried high expectations by those well versed in ballet, and did not fail to disappoint at all. In fact, it far exceeded what I had expected. A group of extremely talented dancers, flawless orchestra, stunning set design and costumes all contributed to an amazing performance that has left me with a lasting impression.
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Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.

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