Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Nutcracker
Dec. 19 Matinee

One of the joys of attending studio ballet performances is watching young, undiscovered talent. Such was the case Saturday afternoon with Nina Yoshida and Koki Yamaguchi as Marie and the Nutcracker Prince, respectively in the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Nutcracker. Koki was very impressive, putting on display his great technique and leaping ability. In his solo in the Grand Pas de Deux, he displayed nice high double tours to a deep plié, big split double cabriole derriére, high and controlled double assemblés, and gigantic grand jetés in attitude, performed with nice phrasing. His dancing was at a higher level than some dancers I’ve seen at major companies. In addition to his solos, he was an attentive, strong, and effective partner. I don’t know much about him except that he joined Gelsey Kirkland Ballet this year. Here is a Vimeo video showing his impressive skills.

17-year old Nina is from New York City and an Apprentice in the Studio Company. She gave a solid performance, although a bit tentative at times. She has nice technique and extension and, with time, her stage presence will grow. Nina and Koki’s Grand Pas de Deux was good, with a few rough edges on some of the turns.

The company gave another great performance Saturday afternoon (I previously reviewed the well danced opening Thursday performance). I particularly liked the Battle Scene, which rewards with multiple viewings. There is much action and nuance in the scene, with mice stomping menacingly, frightening the young Marie; Drosselmeyer coming to her rescue and introducing the eager Nutcracker; the tree growing to the crescendo of the music; the Nutcracker calling for reinforcements as soldiers enter battle by sliding down from a giant cabinet; mice capturing a little boy Nutcracker with the adult Nutcracker coming to his rescue; soldiers and mice engaging in battle in nicely synchronized dances; and finally, Marie rescuing the Nutcracker. A very interesting and well danced scene.

Also strong were the Act II divertissements. The high-flying Russian (Keisuke Nishikawa) stood out with endless split jumps, pairing with Katrina Crawford, Chinese dancers Kaito Yamamoto and Jemima Vaya, and the Spanish dance performed with great flair by Isabella Sew-Atjon, Alina Gavrilov, Miguel Solano, and Erez Milatin.

I enjoyed two performances this season in the company’s new home in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The young dancers are well-trained and rehearsed, with corps dancers generally in synch. Since the departure of ABT’s Nutcracker, the company provides Brooklyn with a quality Nutcracker at a reasonable price.