Sunday, December 6, 2009

Neville's Nutcracker

The Nutcracker according to Brenda R. Neville is a cozy affair set in contemporary, high-rise Manhattan. Since her amiable Drosselmeyer (Yasu Suzuki) is a well-traveled, open-minded diplomat, she can rightly give him friends and associates of diverse races and nationalities and even have young Clara (Ally Taylor Sacks) get dreamy over an NYPD cadet (Christopher McDaniel) who happens to be Black. What's more, Neville Dance Theatre's Nutcracker puts out the red carpet for a bustling world of dance—from tango to Tinikling, from hip hop to Fayzah Claudia Chisolm's superbly crafted "Arabian" solo. Each of the non-ballet dance forms presented in the party celebration emphasizes carefully executed authentic movement rather than the usual balletic stylization of a sprinkling of light ethnic flavors. 

This past week, NDT brought its Nutcracker to Chelsea's Hudson Guild Theater, where--on Saturday's matinee performance--the floor gave dancers a few scares. The choreographer and troupe nevertheless made the best of cramped stage space, filling it with gaiety and flourish.

I never grew up a Nutcracker fan. (Sorry! At Xmastime, my family headed to Radio City for the movies and Rockettes.) But I can certainly get behind a project that indulges my love of world dance. Neville is onto something whose development could be supported and enhanced, I think, by nicer, more adequate space.

Click here to learn more about Brooklyn's Neville Dance Theatre.

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