Tulsa Ballet Review: The Lost Nutcracker
December 17, 2020 | Zoom
Yes, you read that correctly.
Not only was this the first live ballet performance I have watched via Zoom; it was my first time ever using Zoom. I didn’t admit that to Artistic Director Marcello Angelini when he invited me to watch Tulsa Ballet’s The Lost Nutcracker opening night performance and lucky for me I managed to keep my audio muted and camera turned off the entire time.
Confirmed in what was proven in their Creations Reimagined program, the dancers of Tulsa Ballet are – simply put – wonderful. No matter if they are wearing ballet shoes, pointe shoes or character shoes and regardless of what style of dance they are performing, they do it well.
Holiday Boogie sets the tone for the entire evening. From the moment the curtain opens, it is clear that the objective of the program is to bring holiday joy and energy to the audience; the important thing is to take it with a grain of salt. Though a bit (intentionally?) over the top at times, Ma Cong‘s choreography conveys the sentiment behind six classic Christmas songs, making use of various dance vernacular to best fit each section. It is well-performed by what I believe is the entire company and definitely entertaining.
Gears are switched dramatically for Joshua Peugh‘s Little Story. Performed by Tulsa Ballet II (the transition space for dancers who train with both the highest level of the school as well as the company), the narrative is inspired by the bits and pieces of E. T. A. Hoffman’s and Alexander Dumas’ Nutcracker tales that have perhaps been overlooked by the ballet version of The Nutcracker that we are familiar with.
Intellectually, it’s a great study. The juxtaposition between our perceptions of what Nutcracker should be and the visual, audio, and sensory experience Peugh’s creation provokes is mirrored and accentuated by the genre of the score – klezmer.
At first I’m a little overwhelmed by the intensity and speed of it all but gradually find myself entranced in the fervor. Although I catch what are the more obvious references to the traditional ballet, a second – or third – viewing would be necessary to appreciate all of the nuances. I am impressed with the capacity of these young dancers to excel at such a cerebral work.
Splash The Nutcracker stage with some of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” surrealism and you’ve got Luciano Cannito‘s The Lost Nutcracker.
On a mission to find their beloved Prince, Marie and Clara – yes, there are two young girls in this telling – search through the balletic vaults and run into Sleeping Beauty & Prince Desiré and Odette/Odile & Prince Siegfried. The choreographer’s cinematic mindset is a useful tool in creating the sharp scene cuts as there is no other way to successfully transition between Mariah Carey, Tchaikovsky, and Jose Feliciano, or from stage to pedestrian environments.
The sooner the audience accepts the bizarro world the better. It is only then that one can just relax and truly enjoy the show.
Featured Photo of Giulia Neri, Chandler Proctor, and Maine Kawashima in Luciano Cannito’s The Lost Nutcracker © Tulsa Ballet
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