Sunday, March 11, 2001

Fans describe ideal 'Nutcracker'

By Carol Norris
Enquirer contributor

        Last month we asked for suggestions to improve Cincinnati Ballet's Nutcracker. Since then it's been announced Val Caniparoli, choreographer and character dancer for San Francisco Ballet and resident choreographer for Salt Lake City's Ballet West (and one of artistic director Victoria Morgan's favorite dance-makers) has been asked to stage the new Nutcracker for next season.

        Dutifully, you sent some wonderful messages to pass on to Mr. Caniparoli.

        Cut the angels from Act II: Most writers agreed on this one. Many asked why they are in the ballet, considering that they're not in the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story. Others faulted the angels' enormously winged costumes that make dancing impossible.

        Change the finale: Another point of much agreement. Andrea Lentz of West Chester said it best: “Lose the hot-air balloon at the finale. My 3 1/2-year-old daughter was worried that Clara just went flying off somewhere (maybe with the angels?!) and never made it back to reality.”

        Change the party scene: As a child, Mrs. Lentz danced in Indiana University Ballet productions of Nutcracker. She had other suggestions:

        “The Christmas party scene has always lacked onstage action, specifically dancing. Tchaikovsky's rich and beautiful minuets and gavottes are missing the dancing that has traditionally accompanied the music throughout the ages. Adults at a Christmas party should not just stand around while the children run the show. The music is being wasted.”

        Get rid of ...

        The nephew who walks around and helps out Drosselmeyer, advises Sharon Scott, 35, of Anderson Township who has seen Nutcracker every year since she was 12. “They used to have Fritz help him.”

        The bear: “In the party scene they bring out two toys to dance — get rid of the stupid bear,” Ms. Scott adds.

        Her other ideas: “With Mother Ginger, I miss the part where "she' shows her legs at the end. It was always cute.” (“She” is usually danced by a “he.”)

        “The Spanish dancers in recent versions went on pointe; it was more authentic when they used to be in heeled dance shoes.”

        Ballet for adults: Pat Kellison of Pierce Township is looking for a beginning ballet class for adults.

        “I'm 64 years old and in pretty good shape. I want an exercise class ... not aerobics, not yoga, not jazz exercise and definitely not that boxing kind of exercise.” Studios that offer adult beginner ballet send word, and we'll get it to Mrs. Kellison.

        Step into a ceili: If you've never been to a ceili (kay-lee), St. Patrick's Day is as good a time as any to get in on the fun.

        A ceili is an Irish evening of music and dancing with time set aside for the beginner to try a few steps. Anyone can handle the basics, and there's always a mix of old and young trying to learn.

        At the 20th annual Irish Ceili on March 24 at Music Hall Ballroom, the McGing Irish Dancers will demonstrate the more intricate dances. Music is by Ged Foley and his Irish dance band Tessera. Doors open at 7 p.m., performance 8 p.m.-midnight. Tickets $12 advance $15 at the door. 683-9705.

        Mixing it up: Contemporary Dance Theater's Performance & Time Arts Series, now in its sixth season, has always been about performers with a different take on things. There are no rules; performers set their own.

        The material comes mostly under the heading “performance art,” with an emphasis on different disciplines coming together — poets with dancers, writers with musicians. The series mixes the arts, but with a larger than usual input from choreographers.

        Bridget Moore will put poet Nathan Singer onstage with dancer Delores Lagdameo in a piece she's choreographed about aggression and fear. Another poet, Terri Ford, will be accompanied by one-man band Christian Schmitt. She calls him Uncle Glockenspiel, “a man of many tschotzkes, toy instruments, hoses and sundry strange attachments.”

        Dancers Judith Mikita, Bill Donnelly and Steve Kreimer will appear in a reworking of William Butler Yeats' short play Calvary. Holly Price has “developed a language of improvisation” for her piece “Shaper Shifter.”

        Choreographer Diane Germaine introduces “Didi,” a character who is followed through a lifetime of laughter and sadness. Founding member Stephen Pruitt returns (he's been living in Austin, Texas) to wed mathematics to performance art.

        8 p.m. March 16-17, College Hill Town Hall, 1805 Larch Ave. (near Belmont off Hamilton Avenue) $8; 591-1222 for reservations.
       Carol Norris is a free-lance writer who covers dance for the Enquirer. Write her c/o Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202; fax, 768-8330; e-mail


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