George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
2017 is approaching its holiday season climax! For gaggles, including us, this moment couldn’t have come any sooner. “It’s going to go by quickly,” said one Downtowner at the start of Advent. “So, take full advantage!” Does our thirst for jolliness following a demanding year, resonate? Or for us Californians, has the brutality of these wildfires inspired a collective counting of blessings? Whatever the reason... it's almost here!
As part of their 2017-18 season, the Music Center presented an all-new production of iconic Christmas classic, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. At center stage was its world premiere, produced by the Miami City Ballet and co-commissioned by the Music Center, and tickets were in hot demand. It ran for one-weekend only, December 7th to December 10th, with 6 total performances.
“The Music Center is excited to bring back the holiday tradition of enjoying an original Balanchine Nutcracker but in a whole new way, one that is unique to Los Angeles,” proclaimed Rachel Moore, President and CEO of The Music Center. “The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion will be transformed into a winter wonderland.”
In addition to the show itself, the weekend featured A Sugar Plum Fairy Brunch and the Waltz of the Flowers Tea which was provided for guests who attended Sunday’s matinees; both events were catered by the Patina Group and available to ticket holders at an additional cost. Much to the delight of young and old alike.
There are a few special elements to this production that we’d like to point out. First, is the use of a live orchestra. “I love when there’s an orchestra,” said one theatergoer. “The theater just has so much more energy.” We would agree. Having the musicians present does offer a palatable presence to the score. This also gives the dancers performance partners on whose energy they can feed off—and vise-a-versa.
The second is, production design. Cuban-American designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo looked at Balanchine's original design and decided to add a touch of fantasy and couture. Isabel Toledo’s wardrobe creations played directly to the aforementioned themes, rounding the design in certain places in order to give a slightly more futuristic spin. For example, Mother Ginger's face had an alien quality!
Third— the faces of the children were absolutely priceless. All little players either hailed from the Colburn School or Gabriella Foundation’s everybody dance! Program. The angelic voices that tantalized our ears with choral music were also from the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Christmas without children would be like...
Ultimately, The Miami City Ballet did well and once again showed their experience in handling a seasonal tradition, as they've done consecutively for the past 30 years. Truly, this was a beautifully magical experience that added JOY to the spirit of Los Angeles. Our photographs above best capture what words struggle to express!
“We wanted to give Los Angeles a Nutcracker beyond proportion, one that audiences will treasure," said Michael Solomon, Vice President of Presentations and Education for the Music Center. "Our plan is to bring The Nutcracker back to Los Angeles for many years to come."
We look forward to it; it makes the season that much more bright!