Surpass our Expectations
By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy SVB

The dance of the SNOW FLAKES in Karen Gabay’s choreography
        The dance of the SNOW FLAKES in Karen Gabay’s choreography

SAN JOSÉ, CA --- There are many versions of the NUTCRACKER BALLET danced on the different stages of the theatres in the Bay Area during the holidays.  And while all the stories originated from the ERNST THEODOR AMADEUS HOFFMANN (l776-l822) better known as E.T.A. HOFFMANN “The Nutcracker and the King of the Mice,” each ballet is different from each other because each one reflects vision of its choreographer. Another reason, is the story, or the part of the story that the dancers are telling the audience in dance because there are also different versions of the story.  The most common, is the one done in l892 by ALEXANDRE DUMAS that with the music of PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY and the coreography of MARIUS PETIPA was used to create the ballet.

As a writer, E.T.A HOFFMAN was one of the most prominent figures of nineteenth-century German literature. He completed the story of “The Nutcracker” in l816 and the story was published in Kinder-märchen, a Children’s Christmas Story book written in collaboration with  C.W.CONTESSA, and FRIEDRICH,  BARON DE LA MOTTE FOUQUÉ

While the original story of a German girl name Marie, Claire or Marsha (depending on the ballet)  who dreams that her nutcracker doll is transformed into a human Prince and invites her to visit The Land of Sweets after killing the Mice King remains the same in most ballets, elements in the story change.   

The NUT CRACKER's version, choreographed by Coreographer and former Principal Dancer KAREN GABAY for SVB takes the audience back to the original HOFFMAN’s story, thus, this may be the only ballet presented in the Bay Area this year that tell the audience the reason why a man, was turned into a nutcracker wooden doll

BSV principal dancer MAYKEL SOLAS as the Nutcraker/Prince
BSV principal dancer MAYKEL SOLAS as the Nutcracker/Prince

The story set to a Libretto poem by KAREN GABAY (with special thanks to Clement Clarke Moore) written in the program, and it begins with Drosselmeier (RAYMOND RODRIGUEZ) carrying a heavy trunk to the house of Dr. Stahlbaum (BRETT BAUER) and his wife (CAROLINA MACHADO) Christmas party to bring toys to their children Fritz (JOSE GAMERO and Marie (JUNNA IGE) his Godchild.

Drosselmeier's arrival at the party, is an event for everyone. Specially after his puppet performance in a makeshift  theatre, where he relates (in pantomine) to the children “The Tale of the Hard Nut” and the young princess that was put to sleep after being bit by the King Mouse.

The ambiance of the Christmas party, in GABAY’s choreography was elegant and  natural. The groups of adult couples in elegant costumes (DAVID GUTHRIE)  doing different dances was creative, and, the dances of the groups of children well rehearsed. And there was a mischivious Fritz (JOSE GAMERO) bothering his sister and pulling the head off her nutcracker' toy.

And at the sound of twelve, the magic starts, and there was magic created on the stage on that night as we witness the battle between the soldiers and the mice.  The breath-taking Winter Wonderland, and the beautiful Snow Fles dance. And magical also was the Christmas dream. Where MAYKEL SOLAS as The Prince and JUNNA IGE as Marie observe the masterful dance performed by ALEXASANDRA MEIJER, OMMI PIPIT SUKSON y BRETT BAUER, a very fast Chinese dance and the athletic Russian dance, (a Cossack type of dance) requiring high jumps from the men danced by AMY MARIE BRIONES, RYAN DeALEXANDRO, JOSE GAMERO, WALTER GARCIA y KENDALL TEAGUE, that was the show stopper on that night.

SVB Principal dancers JUNNA IGE as Marie and MAYKEL SOLAS as the prince         

Marie and MAYKEL SOLAS as the prince

The production on opening night went on seamless with each dancer performing his or her role with mastery. In the Grand Pas de Deux Solas and IGE gave the audience beautiful fish figures including some with SOLAS lifting IGE over his head or siting her over his shoulder and then placing her gently on the stage and spinning her several times. In his solo, SOLAS gave us perfect high jumps, runs and fast spins. The solo of IGE was in punte and displayed her technique. The only thing it needed to be perfect, was dancing it, on the beat.

With JOSE MANUEL CARREÑO as its Artistic Director, the future of  SILICON VALLEY BALLET looks promising. Its former production of GISELLE choreographed by ALICIA ALONZO and now  GABAY’s Revised Version Premiere of the NUTCRACKER (12/12) demonstrate that the dancers of our Ballet Company  have reached the mastery in dancing that allows them to perform with pride on any stage in the world.

THE NUTCHRACKER will be presented at the San Jose Center for the Performing arts until December 27. For tickets call 408 – 288-2800 or go online at:  tickets.siliconvalleyballet.org