Nuts About That Alternative NutckrakerTuesday, December 22, 2015
I asked last José Verstappen, former Artistic Director of Early Music Vancouver, last December 2014, to answer my question, Why Bach? It had all to do with the fact that Early Music Vancouver was going to produce Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. I asked others to weigh in here.
Let me step on some toes with this one. Here goes: The simple answer is, "Bach? Of course!" My background in the European tradition that focuses on Bach rather than the Messiah around Christmas and Easter still has an impact. The powerful Mengelberg tradition of the Matthew Passion with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, for example ("early music" of a different kind!) kept people huddled around the radio on Palm Sunday, and the streets were deserted. Not to offend anyone; there's of course nothing wrong with Messiah — but personally I would rather sit through the Passions or the Christmas Oratorio on hard pews in a cold church (as I have done many times) than hear another Messiah in a comfortable concert hall.
José Verstappen – Artistic Director Emeritus Early Music Vancouver
While the above statement by Verstappen might be confusing to some, what it boils down to is that I avoid, every year, Handel’s Messiah like the bubonic plague. Fortunately this year Early Music Vancouver produced Michael Preatorious’s Christmas Vespers at the Chan.
In the same way having gone to many Nutcrackers with my two daughters and in this century with my two granddaughters it is my hope that the issue of becoming a great-grandfather and having to take great-grandchildren to another of those will not happen for me. I will be long gone.
The last Nutcracker I went to involved my grandchildren and having crepes with the Sugar Plum Fairy. I wrote about it here.
Fortunately the folks at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company give us the chance to skip that boring Christmas routine by featuring an alternative that has bits of the Nutcracker but in the end it is surprisingly better. I have been a fan of Mixed nuts since its inception. It is full of warmth, drama, skilful dancers and with choreography by the best in town and from abroad.
This year’s Mixed Nuts (last year's) even though I have now seen a few of them was full of surprises. At about this time this amateur modern dance aficionado picks on what I think will be the next year’s crops of dancing virtuosos who will graduate from the Senior Dance Company to join dance companies around the world.
Arts Umbrella Dance Company is full of experienced virtuosi but I have picked five from the Senior Dance Company (I may pick more as I get to know more of them in future performances). On the top of the list is Prince George Tristan Ghostkeeper, who dances very well but has a presence in spades. His partner in The Charmer and the Snake (the Arabian segment dance of the classic Nutcracker and brilliantly choreographed by Ballet BC’s Racheal Prince) is the lithesome and lovely Beatrice Larivee. Then there is Lebanese Charlie Prince who brings his particular brand of classic ballet. His partner in one my favourite tunes of all times, by Tchaikovsky, which is featured in Grand Pas de Deux is the German (lots of tradition in dance there) Antonia Kruschel (and she is tall!). And lastly there is our very own Vancouver dancer, the compact Haley Heckethorn who when she partnered with Tristan Ghostkeeper ( In Racheal Prince's Matadors ) oozed an erotic presence perhaps punctuated by the loveliest upper legs (a kinder expression) I have seen in years.
A dancer's bond.
A dancer's bond.
|Beatrice Larivee & Tristan Ghostkeeper|
|Charlie Prince & Antonia Kruschel|
|Tristan Ghostkeeper & Haley Hechethorn|
Below you will see the pictures I took with my Fuji X-E1 at the matinee performance of Mixed Nuts at the Vancouver Playhouse on December 19.
My granddaughter who is 13 and is in her fifth year at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company I hope will provide me with the distinct pleasure of her performance in a future Mixed Nuts. I can never tire of it.