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DANCE REVIEW : 2nd Cast in Joffrey’s ‘Nutcracker’

Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaums’ remained a hectic affair before a fitfully satisfying visit to Candyland when a second cast of principals took over in the Joffrey Ballet “Nutcracker” Thursday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

As Fritz, Alexander Brady ranged between hangdog, guilty sulking and irrepressibly manic activity; perhaps he found a suitable outlet for all the energy only in his bounding part of the Trepak in Act II. Fortunately, Linda Bechtold, as Clara, managed to transform her dewy, wide-eyed excitability in the first act into a sense of wonder in the second.

The Stahlbaum elders--Julie Janus and Daniel Baudendistel--later danced the Snow monarchs with polished ease and tired efficiency. Joseph Schnell executed his Snow Prince duties with caution and low-altitude virtuosity. Perhaps he was pacing himself for his jumping-splits in the Chinese dance.

Tyler Walters metamorphosed from a polite if rather dim Nephew to a noble Nutcracker Prince, but his dancing suffered from uncharacteristic roughness, especially in landings. With repose and concentrated deliberation, Jodie Gates as the Sugar Plum Fairy seemed to inhabit a different dimension than did the other characters. She danced with shimmering pointes, an arguably fetching hesitation in finishing a step and an unmodulated weightiness that did not reveal further blossoming in line.

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Among other cast changes, Beatriz Rodriguez danced Columbine with springy vitality, Scott Jovovich brought a degree of pathos to Harlequin, Carl Corry showed swift lightness in his brief Nutcracker Doll assignment.

As the kitschy Arabian dancers, Valerie Madonia projected perhaps too much of a superb smugness, while Tom Mossbrucker looked a bit bewildered, as if he were trying to hide inwardly. One could sympathize. Glen Harris again appeared in the all-too-pivotal role of Drosselmeyer in this production.

John Miner conducted with a penchant for extremes in tempo--fast in the introductions, march and social dance, slow in the midnight spell music and the Arabian dance travesty, among other places--and, in either case, with little sensitivity to the score’s expressive possibilities.


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