Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Home Stage Nutcracker on the Rocks is the 19th for Keshet
Keshet Dance Company
Review by Stephanie Hainsfurther

Also see Stephanie's reviews of The Way We Get By and A Chorus Line and Rob's review of Memoir


The Cast
Photo by Pat Berrett

Bookended by the "Overture" and "Final Waltz" from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Keshet Dance Company surprises and delights us each year with their always fresh version of the famous ballet. No tutus here. Instead we are treated to a motley line-up of costumes that set off each of the 98 dancers' characters in tunes by musicians from James Brown to Janis Joplin.

Madame Drosselmeier, gifter of a Christmas nutcracker to teenaged Marie, is a hip lady with magic in her fingertips. As danced by Gabby Evans, Madame D. sets the action of Marie's dream on fire. Pursued by the Rat Queen and her rodentourage, Marie and her Nutcracker teen prince dance their pas de deux, fall in love, and are treated to musical numbers from the 1920s, '50s and '60s.

In keeping with Keshet's mission of including dancers of all abilities, a few numbers feature dancers in wheelchairs and walkers. In the section that Tchaikovsky called "The Waltz of the Snowflakes," the music takes us farther into Marie's dream world in a beautiful dance that includes all snowflakes, individual as they are. After its occupant is liberated from her wheelchair to dance with the Nutcracker, the tiniest snowflake alights and spins on the upturned wheel.

The packed first-night audience was encouraged to respond loudly and they did, especially to Madame Drosselmeier and the Rat Queen (Amadi Oubichan). Oubichan performs an exuberant dance to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" in act two. She and her evil company cast chilling shadows on the back stage wall to emphasize the primal nature of their celebrations.

Nutcracker on the Rocks is a holiday tradition for many here, whether adding to or replacing the experience of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Choreographer and Keshet Artistic Director Shira Greenberg conceived the production when founding Keshet 19 years ago. The dances reflect her sense of humor, attention to choreographic period details, and her award-winning vision.

We've seen the performance at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and it has played at the Rodey Theatre at UNM. Now, here in the new Keshet Center for the Arts, Nutcracker on the Rocks has come home.

Through December 13, 2015. Friday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday 2 p.m.; special autism-friendly performance (little kids also welcome) on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets: Keshet Center for the Arts, 4121 Cutler Ave. NE, (505) 224-9808, KeshetArts.org.


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