AMERICAN BALLET THEATER'S NEW NUTCRACKER SEASON AT BAM

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Yesterday morning at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, ABT announced their plan to hold an annual Nutcracker season at BAM. Above is SLSG favorite, soloist Craig Salstein, enthusiastically speaking to the crowd. He was the only dancer to address the crowd; David Hallberg was there too but stood in the back the whole time. A group of young dancers from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of Ballet (associated with ABT) was there as well — they’ll be dancing in the party scenes when the production opens next year, on December 23, 2010. For the first year, the season will be two weeks, but after that the company hopes to have a longer run.

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ABT resident choreographer Alexei Ratmansky will be choreographing.

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Here’s a slightly better picture of him, by Fabrizio Ferri. Someday I will get a pro camera, I swear!

This was the first time I’d heard Ratmansky speak. He is very soft-spoken and has a heavy Russian accent and seemed to know what he wanted to say but struggled a bit to get the words out in English. And he makes the same grammatical mistakes as Pasha and Baryshnikov (mainly leaving out articles — there are no definite or indefinite articles in Russian — a, an, the — so they tend to leave those out: “…is great score,” etc.) I think English must be the hardest language to learn, especially for Russians. I know Russian is the hardest language I ever tried to learn…

Anyway, Ratmansky seemed shy and soft-spoken but genuinely excited, especially when talking about Tchaikovsky’s score, which he called the greatest ballet music ever written. I felt vindicated :)

But Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz really kind of stole the show with his little speech. He was so out of place in this crowd of rather gentle artists with that booming Brooklyn-accented voice! He of course praised ABT’s decision to hold the season in Brooklyn, then told Ratmansky he should move to the borough since it boasts the greatest Russian population in the U.S. He also called Brooklyn the dance capital of New York (in terms of studio space — which leads to the great number of companies rehearsing there), which is in turn the creative capital of the U.S. These politicians do kind of know how to make their constituencies proud. After bemoaning the fact that the last time ABT was in Brooklyn was before Baryshnikov defected, he called the ABT / BAM plan “a grand jete into the future for Brooklyn.”

The project is expected to cost $5 million and is being partly funded by David A. Koch (yes, of the Koch Theater — he’s matching dollar for dollar donations up to $2.5). ABT also plans to perform community outreach, particularly in Brooklyn schools, including pre-performance workshops for the children, attendance at dress rehearsals, and dance classes.

The rest of the production team includes Jennifer Tipton, lighting designer extraordinaire, and Richard Hudson, an award-winning theater designer, who will design costumes and scenes. Below are some of his sketches:

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harlequin

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7 Comments

  1. Anne Coburn Whitmore

    Oh so cool! Thanks for your write-up, and all the great little touches you wove in! (and thanks for the cool photo, too 😉 – you're so great ;).)
    Anne W.

  2. Wow, those costumes look really fabulous! I can't wait to see what the actual production looks like.

  3. I think this is rather disheartening news. As much as I love ABT, love the music and admire Ratmansky (didn't he do a Nut for the Maryinsky a few years ago at the Kennedy Center- black patent leather snowflake tutus with cotton balls on the skirts?), I hate that they have become victims of the Nutcracker injury machine. And I do not like that rich patrons can dictate the terms of their support.

  4. The designs look really nice. I think it's a good idea for ABT to have a NUTCRACKER if only to see those dancers dancing to that music. I'm sure Ratmansky will create many fine opportunities for the soloists and corps in this production, as well as for ABT's starry roster of principals.

    I hope they won't hesitate to include it in their Met seasons, too. I've seen “Christmas in July” performances of NUTRACKER before and it's kind of fun.

    Craig looks like the CEO of some IT venture. Ferri's portrait of Ratmansky is really superb.

  5. I am a huge Nut Cracker ballet fan and found Mom Culture's interview with Kaitlyn Gilliland–the Sugar Plum Fairy from the New York Ballet–fascinating and informative. I especially liked her perspective on to watch ballet….and her perspective on the reality dance shows. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You can link to it at http://www.momcultureonline.com

  6. I am a huge Nut Cracker ballet fan and found Mom Culture's interview with Kaitlyn Gilliland–the Sugar Plum Fairy from the New York Ballet–fascinating and informative. I especially liked her perspective on to watch ballet….and her perspective on the reality dance shows. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You can link to it at http://www.momcultureonline.com

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