Contrary to what the Boston Globe keeps trying to tell you, this Nutcracker has always been about the dancing, and there’s as much as ever in this production, but the bravura has gone. On press night last Thursday, only Joel Prouty as the lead Russian (and uncredited as the busker) did anything to elicit bravos. Larissa Ponomarenko’s Sugar Plum was aristocratic, bittersweet, almost brittle, a natural, organic presence. Nelson Madrigal displayed his usual panache as the Nutcracker but as her Cavalier was no more than an attentive partner with a big smile. Karine Seneca brought some mystery to her Snow Queen and Pavel Gurevich’s Snow King looked great in his elevated jetés (if not in his clean-and-jerk lifts), but as a couple they might as well have been Photoshopped. The same was true of the Coffee of Tai Jiménez (sinuous but not slinky) and Sabi Varga. Melanie A tk ins did what she could with the no-interaction choreography of Chocolate; Melissa Hough and Raul Salamanca gave Tea an unstereotypical softness; Lia Cirio’s stiff Dewdrop was all photo-op and no flow. No doddering Drosselmeier, Mindaugas Bauzys seemed to have more than tricks up his sleeve, and second soloist Misa Kuranaga, dancing on pointe, is always a delectable Clara — but if you’re going to have a company member and not a child dance Clara, why not have her dance Sugar Plum too (as Gelsey Kirkland did in the 1978 ABT production). There’d be some real magic in that.
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