As we all I know, that I get restless at ballet performances and that unfortunately because of this blog, it is rare to just go enjoy a ballet performance. You don’t know if you should just be enjoying it or I should be reviewing it… This year Arizona was forced into the battle of Winter Performances as Arizona not only has a professional company, but now has arguably one of the best schools in the country performing two blocks away from each other. Needless to say Masters did not disappoint. It was everything you would expect from Masters… tons of tricks and energy with the audience roaring. This was my first time watching Ballet Arizona’s Nutcracker… and it started off really well. Gorgeous sets and a ton of digital work, their set and lighting designer did a mighty good job. As party scene progressed I dozed off… Not gunna lie… The dolls borderline looked racist and looked like they had black face on… this was due to the large black lacquer masks they had on…. I fell asleep during battle scene and woke up for snow pas de deux which was super random… Like it starts with the Nutcracker and Clara getting into the sleigh… but at the end the sleigh comes back out and they are not in it but instead walking towards it… Snow was full of energy, so I had high hopes for ACT 2…
The digital effects were gorgeous… Prologue literally looked like heaven and I had such high high hopes… But then the most random things happen…. like Sugarplum has two servants that take up the scene music… and then the rats appear instead of the pantomime… Then instead of a throne or table they were sitting on a clear plastic bench and instead of being the land of sweets it was a beautifully painted starry backdrop… It was like they had died or something… who knows… But then the slew of variations happened… Spanish was entertaining… Chinese was borderline racist with super offensive choreography… Mirlitons was the battle of principal elite women… like it was awkward to watch but GORGEOUS costumes… Russian looked like 80’s couches… Mother Ginger and her bon bon was a trip… like… the costume for mother ginger was beyond fantastic and two stories high…. the poor bonbons in this version wear all green and basically look like little t-rex dinosaurs emboite-ing around.
Flowers was beyond underwhelming in white tutus which was awkward… actually none of their color palettes for the divertissements matched but oh well… DEW DROP was FEROCIOUS in a costume to die for, she literally was the best part of the Nutcracker… But this is not what this post is about…. This post is going to center around the pas de deux which I will not name names…
BUT… the Sugar and Cav basically threw away their performance when a lift didn’t go as planned. Literally, their expressions on their face for the remainder of the pas was lack luster. His variation he lost all his energy and was underwhelming. Then sugar started her variation and it started off beautifully… (Ballet Arizona’s female aesthetic is long, super-super thin, and gorgeous feet and turnout) But then, it looked like her shank died and she kind of just fudged through her variation… But that wasn’t the worst part… in the coda of the grand pas… they just gave up and she threw away fouettes, pique turns and other steps. It was just lackluster and ended on a really sour note.
Which brings me to my post… We are taught from a young age to not throw away combinations when we mess up, to pretend it never happened if we fall on stage, or mask whatever goes wrong… And in this performance… Ballet Arizona failed in performance quality. I didn’t even hate the choreography that much… But no joke… It was the most disappointing thing I have seen in a long time… I expect at student showcases that if something goes wrong the performance gets thrown away… but at a professional performance… I just don’t think it is excusable.
I get that you were tired, that during Nutcracker you have way too many shows, with way too many parts, and are way too tired… But throwing away the magical show that will inspire thousands of girls every year to be a dancer… I don’t know… Like it was so bad… Everyone around me became so uncomfortable during the performance… Like adjusting their bodies and trying not to look at the train wreck that was happening on stage (at this performance it seemed like there were a lot of ballet dancers, former pros, current students, and more) … it was just extremely painful to watch.
It also didn’t help that for being a professional company there was no live music… so that CD life seemed to be intense.
Always- I just don’t know… it was extremely disappointing… For a company that i have loved watching grow and expand this season has been incredibly painful to watch… like I didn’t even post my review about La Bayadere because I was trying to make nice… but this I felt like was just… unacceptable… I really don’t know how a dancer can just throw away a performance. It makes me question if I want to keep purchasing tickets to see Ballet Arizona. Not to mention seats were kind of ridiculously overpriced for not having an orchestra.