Even Covid couldn’t break a stalwart like The Nutcracker. Brooklyn Ballet, like countless other arts organizations, had to nimbly change their programming in 2020. Yet they pulled off the Herculean feat this weekend by being the only company in New York City to perform a live production of the beloved Christmas classic.
From Thursday, December 10th through Sunday, December 13th, dancers twirled and swirled through 9 condensed performances, all of which took place in the studio space of the ballet company, which they turned into a “jewel box”. Meanwhile, masked spectators gazed through the windows, respectfully observing social distancing rules from the sidewalk and street.
The twenty-minute version incorporated a variety of dance styles including hip-hop and flamenco. although it was far from traditional Balanchine choreography, it was inspired and mesmerizing—and a most welcome reprieve from a year that has offered few live performances.
Sira Melikian, who appeared in the production as a Marzipan dancer, spoke with Manhattan Digest briefly before Thursday night’s second performance. Normally, the Brooklyn performance includes a cast of seventy. This year, it was whittled down to twelve . “It was sad that we couldn’t see our usual group of friends, but for those of us who are here, we’re just happy to be in the space together,” said Melikian. “We honestly didn’t know if it would happen. Last year we were at the King’s theater here in Brooklyn, so we’ve definitely had to downsize, but we’re doing what we can and just making do,” she said.
The Nutcracker was directed by Lynn Parkerson and all nine performances were dedicated to the memory of Nakotah LaRance, a former dancer with the company. LaRance passed away earlier this year after a tragic fall in New Mexico. Following the live performance, brief film footage of his award-winning Native American hoop dancing was shown.
For more information on the Brooklyn Ballet, click here.