The holiday season in NYC is truly magical. There's the 74-foot tree at Rockefeller Center, the ice skaters gliding across Wollman Rink in Central Park and the white lights strung across trees and buildings around the city.
And then there's one of the grandest holiday traditions of all: New York City Ballet's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.
I saw the show on Friday night and, though I see it nearly every year, was just as blown away as ever.
Let's start the very beginning, shall we?
I was thrilled to see in the cast list that Taylor Stanley, our September cover boy, was playing the role of grandfather. And he was adorable! Taylor isn't just a gifted dancer, he's an exceptional performer. At just 19 years old, he's already finding ways to command the stage. Bravo, Taylor!
The end of Act I is, in my mind, the most magical part of the performance. I love watching the Snowflakes glide through the fake falling snow—and it always amazes me that no one slips! I was especially happy to see Lauren Lovette, our September cover girl, as a Snowflake. She definitely stood out to me during this piece. She has wonderful legs and a super-bendy back. I can't wait to watch her grow and mature with the company.
Act II = Candyland!
Well, The Land of Sweets. Same thing.
How wonderful to be welcomed into the Land of Sweets by Sara Mearns, as The Sugarplum Fairy. Her leading role is the reason I wanted to see this evening's performance of The Nutcracker. I've been mesmerized by her this year, especially as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. The best word I can think of to describe Ms. Mearns is solid. Sometimes when you're watching a performer you worry that he/she might slip, fall out of a turn or make a mistake. I never feel that way when I'm watching this exceptional principal. She nails everything, every time.
Of course, the entire second act is a thrill. From the darling little angels that glide across the floor to the hilariously quirky Chinese Tea (Lauren Lovette was one of the Tea dancers, and she was great!), it's all so much fun.
Lauren King was fantastic as the lead Marzipan Shepherdess. If you like Lauren, wait for the February issue of DS. You'll get a whole lot more of her!
Tiler Peck, a favorite of mine, rounded out the Land of Sweets performances as Dewdrop. Honestly, is there a more fun, lively and adorable performer in the ballet world right now? Ms. Peck is quick on her feet and absolutely charming. The Dewdrop role was a fitting one for her.
Behind Ms. Peck, Brittany Pollack was a standout in the Flowers piece. Again, her stunning beauty doesn't hurt! But she's also got killer feet, great extension and a strong upper body.
In case it's not clear, here's my summary: New York City Ballet's Nutcracker is awesome. Go see it. I've been listening to my "CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!!!!!" playlist ever since I left Lincoln Center on Friday night.