Robinson Center Music Hall
There is only one reason why “The Nutcracker” is still important to central Arkansas. The ballet incorporates many children of the community who aspire to perform. More young people are taken to the theater during this time of the year with the hope that they will be inspired to become active participants in the arts.
Ballet Arkansas has the best intentions in staging the yearly Christmas ballet, but, sincerely, how exciting can it be to sit still for three hours and watch a story about a little girl’s toy being broken and then watching the situation repetitively re-enacted in her dreams?
We have seen this production time and time again, so why not try to change it up a bit and make this performance a little more interesting to the parents or to the young people who are interested in the performing arts? Watching Israel Getzov conduct the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra was the only stimulating aspect of Saturday’s show, and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra gave a polished performance.
Technical director Warren Law did a great job conveying the picturesque 19th century lifestyle of an upper-class Christmas. The set changes were smooth and the costuming was enchanting. Everything was technically fitting except the quality of the dancing. Why was Clara was never on point?
Most of the time the music and the choreography just did not match. The excessive and over-dramatic pantomime was nauseating. Grace Tilley and Sara Sardelli better thank Jean Paul Jr.’s partnering skills or else they might have fallen flat on their faces.
There were so many missed opportunities. The casting of KATV’s Jason Harper as Mother Ginger was an interesting decision. However, it was appalling to see that KATV’s endorsement was taken so far to actually advertise in the middle of Tchaikovsky. The “Good Morning Arkansas” feature reporter lifted his guise as he/she, sneezed and then proceeded to blow his/her nose with a handkerchief that had a huge Channel 7 logo. I would think that organizations like Ballet Arkansas would know better.
If the television station actually cared enough to enrich the arts then they should have focused on donating money to pay higher caliber choreographers to better instruct the ballerinas. As for next year’s production, I suggest that KATV supply the company with a dramaturge. Do us all a favor and research Arabian, Russian and Chinese dance. Try to stage choreography that is not simply a bastardization of another ethnicity’s dance form.
At least, thanks to the ASO’s wonderful music, I was able to close my eyes and imagine my own version of “The Nutcracker.”