The Ballet Theater of Annapolis has provided a wonderful Christmas present for its audiences with this year's incarnation of "The Nutcracker."
Choreographer Edward Stewart has assembled a talented, enthusiastic cast that flat-out nailed the seasonal classic when my familyand I saw it Sunday afternoon at Maryland Hall.
This year's "Nutcracker" is enhanced considerably by the company's new principal male dancer, J. Anibal Macedo. As the --ing Prince who escorts young, dreaming Clara to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Macedo cuts a terrific figure on stage.
His athleticism is quite striking. He achieves remarkable altitude on his jumps; his lifts in the concluding "Pas De Deux" with Clara seemed to be the epitome of grace and power.
He is a noteworthy addition to the local dance scene, no doubt about it.
Leslie Bradley's Sugar Plum Fairy was also apleasure to watch. Bradley is a tall, statuesque dancer of considerable grace and energy who conveyed a regal elegance to her character.
Janice Barringer, as always, is an exceptionally glamorous Snow Queen and choreographer Stewart -- as a dancer -- conjured up both magic and a hint of menace as Drosselmeyer, the mysterious visitor whose magic gift to Clara makes it all happen. Laura Babel is a suitably lovely Clara as well.
Other standouts are Jeffrey Bychowski and David Miller as a pair of tumbling Russian dancers, Ethel Leslie and Miller as a particularly graceful Arabian couple and Cynthia Bernhausen as a beautiful Russian princess.
The only clear problem with this production is that its introductory portion is not as well-paced as the rest. There is a palpable lack of variety as the children and adults repeatedly alternate stints on stage without much novelty or flair.Time passes slowly until Drosselmeyer shows up to get the supernatural off and running.
My 5-year-old, Benjamin, pointedly asked me, "Hey, dad, are any of these guys kids?," and the answer was an emphatic "yes!"
Congratulations to the youngsters of the BTA School, the Carter School of Dancing, The Edna Lee Dance Studio, Jeanette's School of the Dance, Les Cher Classical Ballet Academy, MBT School of the Arts, The Severna Park Ballet Center and the South River Dance and Gym Center.