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Jennie Ringer is back!

Just received the casting for the final week of The Nutcracker at NYCB, and I see that Jenifer Ringer will be dancing the role of Sugarplum on Dec. 26 and Dec. 30. It’s one of Ringer’s best roles—or rather it suits her quite perfectly—because there is something so refreshingly adult, feminine, and musical about her dancing. Technique and razzle-dazzle are not the point. Ringer is one of those dancers who just let themselves be carried along by the ebb and flow of the music; she never looks forced, and she never tries to impress. While appearing to dance for her own enjoyment, she just opens up her imagination and allows us to come with her for the ride. (She’s a natural in ballets like Liebeslieder Walzer, that require an imagination.) And the way she responds to the kids onstage in Nutcracker, one can see she knows and loves children. This isn’t an essential quality for Sugarplum, but it does add a deeper level to the role. Ringer’s latest absence was caused not by injury but by her second pregnancy; she has spoken with joy of the pleasures of motherhood (and even of pregnancy). Since she’s in her late thirties, there was reason to worry she might not come back, which would have been a terrible shame. Her casting in Nutcracker is a good sign that she will return for the winter season, which begins on January 15 and features a festival of Tchaikovsky ballets. With her sense of scale, wonderful phrasing, and innate glamor, Ringer is a natural for Tchaikovsky. Something to look forward to.

Here she is in a moment from Melissa Barak’s Call Me Ben (not a good ballet, I’m afraid, but a wonderful shot that captures a lot.) The photographer is Paul Kolnik.

Jenifer Ringer and Robert Fairchild in Call Me Ben.
Jenifer Ringer and Robert Fairchild in Call Me Ben.

Curious to know what ballets others love to see Ringer in? Drop me a line.

Jeune Fille en Fleur: The Blossoming of Lauren Lovette

Lauren Lovette became a member of the corps de ballet at New York City Ballet only two years ago, but her star has been steadily rising ever since. With her sparkling eyes, delicate sensuality, and the quiet sense of joy that suffuses  her dancing, it’s hard to miss her, even when she’s at the rear of the stage, which happens less and less frequently. On Monday, she received the Clive Barnes (dance) Award, a prize that singles out young performers who reveal extraordinary promise.  (Rob McClure won the award for best young actor.) The timing seems just right; Lovette will début in the role of Sugarplum on Dec. 23, an event not to be missed (she’ll dance it again at the matinée of the 28th). She’s only twenty, and I’ll wager we’ll be seeing more and more of her. Over the past few seasons, she has illuminated the stage in various roles, from the introspective solo in Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia to the sensual, playful pas de deux in Balanchine’s Rubies, and even a throwaway part in Susan Stroman’s For the Love of Duke. Here are a few photos of her, all by Paul Kolnik.

With Anthony Huxley in Rubies. (All photos by Paul Kolnik.)
With Anthony Huxley in Rubies. (All photos by Paul Kolnik.)
In the quiet solo in Wheeldon's Polyphonia, where she drew us into her world.
In the mesmerizing solo in Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, where she drew us into her world.

At the time of her début in Polyphonia, I wrote: “A few days ago, when Sara Mearns performed the role, she seemed to expand, radiating energy outward; Lovette, instead, pulled us into her private world. She repeated a phrase, rising quietly on pointe and raising her leg, and then began to add gestures, a scooping up of the hands, a turn with the arms held aloft and then lowered into a kind of prayerful gesture. She accelerated slightly, she slowed down. Her fingers sparkled with life. She drew attention to every detail of the choreography and made us see it anew. In other words, she not only danced it beautifully, but made it her own.”

With Chase Finlay, again in Polyphonia.
With Chase Finlay, again in Polyphonia.
Here she is in Stroman's For the Love of Duke.
Here she is in Stroman’s For the Love of Duke.
And here, in Balanchine's Serenade, when she was still at the School of American Ballet.
And here, in Balanchine’s Serenade, when she was still at the School of American Ballet.

There’s a video of her in Peter Martins’ Mes Oiseaux here. She’s the one with the bangs.

At the awards ceremony on Monday Lovette, who seemed slightly overwhelmed by her nervous excitement, spoke touchingly of her colleagues, the art of dance, and her sense of wonder at her own good fortune. The event was organized by Barnes’ widow, Valerie Taylor-Barnes, whom I recently interviewed for DanceTabs. She first met the critic when she was a dancer with the Royal Ballet. Fifty (!) years—and various wives—later, they married. Ms. Barnes has quite an eye; recent award-winners include Isabella Boylston (of ABT) and Chase Finlay (of NYCB).

For  updates, feel free to check out @MarinaHarss on Twitter. And I’m eager for your comments!

Three Images from NYCB’s Nutcracker, Nov. 23

Lleyton Ho (Nutcracker prince), Robert La Fosse (Herr Drosselmeier), and Claire Abraham (Marie) in Balanchine’s “Nutcracker,” at New York City Ballet. Photo by Paul Kolnik.
Tiler Peck as Dewdrop in the Waltz of the Flowers. (photo by Paul Kolnik.)
Rebecca Krohn as Arabian Coffee. (Photo by Paul Kolnik.)

Enter Dewdrop (DanceTabs)

The Nutcracker season has officially begun. At New York City Ballet, the ballet opened its month-long run on Nov. 23. Here is my review of that performance, with Tiler Peck as an exciting Dewdrop, carried by the music.

And here is a short excerpt:
“hen something is beautifully made it never gets old. So it is with Balanchine’s Nutcracker, first performed by New York City Ballet in 1954 and honed to near-perfection over the years. There are good performances, bad ones, and every so often a magical one, but even a middling one will do, because the structure is sound. First, there is Tchaikovsky’s score: imaginative, filled with whimsy, but also, without warning, steeped in drama. Balanchine’s interpolation of the yearning violin cadenza from The Sleeping Beauty into the scene in which Marie falls asleep with the Nutcracker in her arms is so seamless, and feels so appropriate, that one would never guess the music had been smuggled in from another ballet.”

A New Ballet from Justin Peck for NYCB (DanceTabs).

Peck’s Year of the Rabbit had its première on Oct. 5, and seems to have had a wide success. It’s delightfully complex piece, with lots of moving parts. The corps is the star. Here‘s my review for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt:

“What struck me most about the ballet was its sense of freedom. This was the opening salvo of an imagination unleashed. Compared with the ballet that preceded it, for example (Benjamin Millepied’s Two Hearts), it felt pleasingly uncalculated, like a voyage of discovery. At a time when young choreographers seem overly concerned with appearing weighty and stylishly relevant, Peck appears to be mainly interested in exploring the form.”