Kayla Xu presents ballerina Lauren Lovette with a bouquet at the end of Northeast Ballet's "The Nutcracker" at Proctors.
‘Tis the season for “The Nutcracker” and there was none better locally than Northeast Ballet’s rendering of the holiday classic.
There were many reasons, but the most convincing one was the Schenectady ensemble’s guest stars that this year included ballerina Lauren Lovette and New York City Ballet Principal Taylor Stanley. These two, as the Sugarplum and her Cavalier, were delightful to behold on Sunday afternoon at Proctors – inspiring both the Christmas spirit and awe of their inimitable style.
Lovette, though technically now retired from City Ballet, was charming as always, throwing her whole self into the role as queen of the Land of Sweets with her unflappable gusto. Stanley, who is among today’s greatest dancers, proved his versatility in this classical role. While known for his prowess in contemporary parts, often as a soloist, his gracious gentility and depth, which is always present, shined.
But it wasn’t just these two. Artistic Director Darlene Myers engaged a host of dazzling artists including the acrobatic Melody Rose and Tyler Stewart in the Arabian divertissement and high-flyers Darko Borso and Petro Pitula in the Ukrainian dance. Also, light and lovely on their feet were Luigi Crispino and Luciana Paris in the Snow pas de deux.
It has been years since I have seen Northeast’s version of the popular Tchaikovsky ballet and perhaps what struck me the most was how well the local student dancers looked. Myers has honed them into a fine, tight group with dancers who beautifully and adeptly led the Waltz of the Flowers (Payton Casey), the Snow Pas (Macy Swicz) and Marzipan (Millie Ellenbogen).
Most everything about this “Nutcracker” was enjoyable. The costumes in the first act party, where Clara, danced joyously by Kayla Xu, was introduced to the audience, were appropriately colorful and sparkly. The mice were adorably menacing and the Nutcracker’s cheese camouflaged cannon was a humorous touch.
Of course, Mother Ginger and her brood who lives under her skirt was also a highlight, with audiences clapping along to the music.
There was almost nothing to not like – except for those awkward lifts between the Nutcracker, danced with commitment by Robert Titsworth, and Clara that can be cringeworthy as they never appeared smooth.
Regardless, Northeast Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” left audience skipping happily into the holidays.