November 22, 2012

New twist to 'Nutcracker' choreography

Choreographer refashions holiday classic 'Nutcracker'


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Terpsie Toon’s choreographic revamp of “Nutcracker” transforms the North Country Ballet Ensemble’s holiday extravaganza in dreamland.

“For a while, we had been talking about a little bit of change with ‘Nutcracker’ in the first act,” said Alice Schonbek, artistic director.

“I think a change in choreography is always good. It brings new ideas, new vision.”

Toon, a Lake Placid School of Ballet instructor, joins guest choreographers Rebecca Kelly and Michela Boschetto, part of the ensemble’s creative team.

“We liked her vision of what she saw for ‘Nutcracker’ and invited her to do more,” Schonbek said. “She has completely re-choreographed the battle and party scenes, two segments of the ballet in Act I.”

The ensemble offers a traditional retelling of a little girl’s dreams gone wild on Christmas Eve.

“The party scene is very much more dance oriented,” Schonbek said. “First, it has 48 people on stage at the same time. There’s a lot of adults and a lot of children. There’s more dancing.”

The battle scene, soldiers versus mice, is also traditional.

“What has changed, now we have 28 mice. We have many more soldiers. I think there is more humor in the battle. The soldiers are much more like toy soldiers. We have a very active cast working on battling each other and magic by Mr. Drosselmeyer. There is also more dancing in that scene than there has been in the past by all the cast members.”

Therese Wendler — principal dancer with Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and Dances Patrelle — returns for her eighth season as Sugar Plum Fairy and Queen of the North Winds.

Her Cavalier for the second time around is Mikhail Ilyin of American Ballet Theatre. He relinquishes his role to Andres Neira for the Lake Placid performances.

Morgan Broderick dolls up as Claire, Harvey Runyon as Fritz and Jason Borrie as Uncle Drosselmeyer.

Teagan Plimpton, a senior, dances the roles of North Wind, Candy Cane, Chinese Arabian and Dew Drop in “Waltz of the Flowers.”

Gabrielle Patnode, also a senior, dances Ice Maiden, Spanish, Arabian and Dew Drop.

“With Terpsie’s vision, it’s more fantastical,” Schonbek said. “It’s a little more imaginative than what we have (done) in the past.”

New lighting and design by Erika Greyson of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Theater Department enhances the overall production.

“Visually, we added a beautiful new Christmas tree,” Schonbeck said. “It’s a 3-D tree, round, and it grows to 24 feet. We were lucky enough to have Matt Sorensen (Pendragon Theatre) design a tree.”

Kent Streed of Pendragon Theatre designed a new Mother Ginger.

“In terms of who’s dancing with Mother Ginger, we have a new character called Polichinelles,” Schonbek said.

“It’s pretty much a very new scene in Act II. I’m very excited about a new alliance with these artists from the Tri-Lakes to help us realize a new vision for the ballet.”

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IF YOU GO WHAT: "Nutcracker," presented by the North Country Ballet Ensemble. PLATTSBURGH SHOWS: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Hartman Theatre, Myers Fine Arts Building, SUNY Plattsburgh. All categories of tickets are on sale at The Party Factory, 561-6001, as well as one hour prior to each performance at Hartman Theatre. General seating costs $10 for children (12 and under) and seniors and $15 for adults. Reserved seating costs $13 for children (ages 12 and under) and seniors and $18 for adults. For ticket information and group sales, call 593-7490. LAKE PLACID SHOWS: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, Lake Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Drive. Tickets cost $12 for children (ages 12 and under), $15 for seniors and students and $18 for adults. For reservations or ticket information, call the LPCA at 523-2512 or visit