Los Angeles Ballet

 

Los Angeles, California - Los Angeles Ballet

Snow and Snowballs in The City of Angels

December 2, 2006 - By Brad Maxwell

Los Angeles, California -- Our nation's second largest city and regional centerpiece for an area known as the entertainment capital of the world, is realizing a dream come true.  Los Angeles, The City of Angels, now has its own professional ballet company.  The Los Angeles Ballet presents The Nutcracker at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills.

It's not everyday you have a chance to create a new tradition, a custom, a culture or ritual of regional performance art.  But that's exactly what the Los Angeles Ballet intends to give to The City of Angels; the gift of a Nutcracker with a Los Angeles heritage.  The Los Angeles Ballet Nutcracker is young, like a newly bottled California cabernet, with a bouquet of greatness that can only improve with age.  

The Los Angeles Ballet's Nutcracker story is based in Los Angeles, 1912, and incorporates some exciting twists on the traditional story.  First, instead of the same old gray-haired Drosselmeyer that is in nearly every show across the country, this Drosselmeyer is a handsome young man with wild brown hair, a mustache, and goatee dressed in a velvet green suit and a giant furry overcoat; with an almost pirate-like Johnny Depp look.  Instead of the same old classical Act I Snow Scene, a snowball fight between Clara and the young Nutcracker turns into a dance of snowballs in a beautiful forest.  The entire performance flows nicely telling the story of Clara's dream and ending as the parents put Clara back to bed to provide closure to her adventure.

As Act I opens, Clara and Fritz are behind the scrim in the hallway, playing with dolls and soldiers.  The guests arrive dressed in fashionable LA clothing with colorful dresses, stylish hats and long coats with tails.   The scene moves into the red parlor of the Staulbaum's house where Fritz torments the girls and the guests dance.   A magical and cavalier looking Drosselmeyer gives a grandfather clock as a gift to the parents and a child-sized Nutcracker to Clara. The Nutcracker's  arms move, salute and pop Fritz in the head when he tries to attack it.  The party ends and Clara goes to bed with the Nutcracker nearby. 

Clara dreams that large gray pink-eared mice are playing in the parlor, protected by red and white soldiers who arrive to help Clara rid the house of unwanted guests.  Clara throws her shoe and the Nutcracker sends the Mouse King to the floor to be mourned by the sad and grieving mice, throwing arms into the air wildly  while shaking their sad little mice faces in disbelief.  Clara and the Nutcracker travel to a snowy forest where they have a snowball fight that turns into a forest of dancing snowballs.

Act II opens to the Palace of the Dolls, where Clara and the young Nutcracker arrive on Drosselmeyer's boat and are rewarded with dances by living dolls including the Spanish, the leaping Russians and the beautiful Arabian in peach striped pants and a belt, top and head-covering made of jewels.  Mother Ginger takes stage in the chimney of a gingerbread house with eight little children in pigtails and lederhosen.  Clara takes center stage with the Waltz of Flowers with their swaying arms and luxurious kicks. 

The Grand Pas de Duex is performed by the breathtaking Paloma Herrera, as Clara's doll Marie, and Benjamin Millepied as her Prince.   Stunning, spectacular and graceful are words that always come to mind when describing a performance by world class dancers like Paloma and Benjamin.  The Act ends as Clara falls asleep on the floor, circled by a mouse on a tricycle and then placed in her bed by her parents. 

The Los Angeles Ballet runs for three weekends: Wilshire Theatre December 2-3; Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center December 23-24, and the Alex Theatre in Glendale December 30-31.

 


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