Washington, D.C. - Joffrey Ballet
Joffrey at the Kennedy Center - A Capital Performance
November 29, 2004 - By Brad Maxwell
Washington D.C. -- A monumental city, a presidential homeland and our nation's capital. A city of stately government buildings buzzing with congressional
leaders and elite dignitaries. A city of monuments and memories honoring our leaders and heroes. A city that showcases some of our nation's greatest achievements. With a setting like
this, what could be more monumental than an evening at the Kennedy Center with the Joffrey Ballet performing a grand and stylish Nutcracker.
The Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker bursts with style. A nonstop ballet spectacular blended with a bold and
dramatic orchestra. The Joffrey's special blend includes some creative choreography like: The ensemble of couples incorporated in the Waltz of
Flowers and the Snow Scene; The crowd pleasing young male soloist dancing as the Snow Prince, and Drosselmeyer playing Clara's personal guide
throughout the ballet. And to finish off a great recipe, they top it all off with a very spectacular Pas de Deux.
The Party Scene opens to a grand parlor with pastel violet walls, a chandelier, long flowing draperies and
a staircase to the rear. A young and handsome Drosselmeyer (Michael Anderson) arrives sprinkling sparkle dust and performing magic. The party is
filled with dancing and holiday festivities as Fritz shocks Clara (Stacy Joy Keller) with a small hairy rodent and then assembles his buddies into a small
army of stick-horse-riding sister-taunting recruits in paper hats. Drosslemeyer then presents a giant cherry pie and out pops two dancing dolls, followed
by two dancing soldiers. Suddenly the lights dim, the party freezes as Drosselmeyer hands the Nutcracker to Clara under a single light. A very
dramatic effect adding to the magic of Drosselmeyer and underscoring the artistry used to present the characters.
The fight scene begins with Clara awakening on the chase lounge by the fireplace. Smoke begins seeping from the fireplace as the pointy-nosed
floppy-eared mice appear. The soldiers come to life dressed in blue and white uniforms with large napoleon looking hats. The scene explodes as
cannons begin firing cheese and calvary mice charge in on little mice horses along side the chrome-face Mouse King. This battle scene is chock-full of nonstop action and fun.
Drosselmeyer brings the Prince to life, transporting the Prince and Clara to a white forest with tall pointy
trees and falling snow. The Snow King (Brian McSween) and Snow Queen (Kathleen Thielman) appear riding in on a silent white horse. They begin
dancing together and are soon accompanied by the snow ensemble of twelve Snowflakes and six Snowwinds, swirling and lifting partners throughout
the scene. The audience got loud when the handsome and young Snow Prince (Masayoshi Onuki) launched into a string of pirouettes, capturing
attention at center stage. A very creative and beautiful Snow Scene incorporating many dancers.
Act III begins with Drosselmeyer escorting Clara and the Nutcracker Prince (Michael Levine) to the Kingdom of Sweets. The divertissements are
classics starting with a soloist as the fan snapping Chocolate from Spain and then the blue-costumed Coffee from Arabia couple. Next are the Tea from
China in bright red costumes with tall Chinese hats leaping like pull-string jumping-jacks. The Russian's lively dance follows, with high kicks and spins that
are always a crowd favorite. And of course, there is the lovely Marzipan Shepherdesses who dance with flutes in hand. A classic trip to the Kingdom of Sweets.
The Waltz of Flowers is styled after a Victorian Bouquet, with each dancer dressed in different colors representing different flowers. The costumes
looked like beautiful flowers, with layers of delicate tulle trimmed like large colorful flower petals. The Waltz Bouquet was joined by Cavaliers and
Consorts making a total of eight couples, lifting flowery costumes into the air, seemingly floating throughout the palace garden. A colorful celebration
that highlighted the superb skills of the entire company.
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better than the Waltz -- The Grand Pas de Deux began. Julianne
Kepley and Michael Levin, dancing the parts of the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince, gave the audience a demonstration of beauty and grace.
Their dance was deliberate, dramatic and spectacular. Their pairing provided the magic worthy of a Sugar Plum Fairy and a Nutcracker Prince.
Truly, a capital performance!