Magazine article Dance Magazine

The Great Nutcracker Reunion

Magazine article Dance Magazine

The Great Nutcracker Reunion

Article excerpt

On a December evening when the snow scene outside rivaled the one in the theater for its pristine beauty, the School of American Ballet held its Golden Jubilee Homecoming in honor of the 50th year of George Balanchine's Nutcracker. Out of the 2000 people who had performed in the New York City Ballet production as children in the last 50 years, 200 attended.

Never has the vast New York State Theater felt so intimate. After announcing that special guests Maria Tallchief and Peter Boal were snowed in (or rather, out), Peter Martins, Director of SAB faculty, asked what roles all the attending alumni had played. Soldiers? Angels? Candy Canes? Each time, a different group clapped noisily, occasionally cheering. 11 felt like a family squealing over old photo albums. The performance of The Nutcracker proceeded, in all its magical glory. Jennie Somogyi, who had played Marie as a child, danced a warm and full-bodied Sugar Plum with Charles Askegard stepping in for Boal as her Cavalier at the last minute.

Though some people were crestfallen that Boal and Tallchief couldn't attend--a teenager sighed that Tallchief was her personal hero--the dessert crowd was well entertained by Eliot Feld. "I had studied all of three months before I was chosen to be one of two princes," he told us about the first Nutcracker in 1954. "There were only two boys in the school, so it had more to do with genitalia than talent. It was a life-changing experience for ore. …

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