Sunday, December 2, 2007

Neil & Sabra's Nutcracker Performance UPDATED!

Neil Haskell and Sabra Johnson flew cross-country yesterday morning to appear in performances of The Nutcracker in Buffalo, N.Y. Our correspondent in Buffalo, we'll call her BC, reports there were some surprises.

Updated with video!

I just got back from this evening's performance of The Nutcracker, by the American Academy of Ballet here in Buffalo, NY. As you know, Neil and Sabra were dancing the Paso Dobles, and I couldn't wait to see it! The Center for the Arts was could have been sold out, but I really couldn't see the balcony from my seat. The Paso was in the second act, where the Spanish variation usually is. You have to know that Maris' (Battaglia, director of the American Academy) Nutcracker is very different...she puts in several non-ballet numbers to get as many children involved in the production as possible, as this is a ballet academy's showcase "winter recital," in a way. There's some acrobatics, a little tap, and some other novelty type numbers. It sounds a bit nutty, but it works for this kind of show. So the Paso dobles wasn't as out of place as you might think. There was also an "Under the Sea" piece (!), and a South American scene (but more on that later!)

Let me just say that Neil and Sabra rocked the Paso! I know that many posters have been critical of the dance, and especially the donut drop. And I saw the tour twice, in Rochester and Toronto, and both times, the drop was a little rough. But tonight! They absolutely NAILED it! Sabra went straight down, and FAST, with no jiggling of Neil's shoulders, NOTHING like before. She stopped inches from the floor. It was fabulous, and very dramatic and very hot. The audience really went crazy!

Then came the surprise: ...


Neil and Sabra had choreographed another piece for the South American scene (one of the places Clara and her prince visited, besides Arabia, China, etc.) Neil was wearing a tight bright yellow wife-beater, and Sabra was in a 2 piece outfit (sorry, can't remember details). They danced a super hot Latin-type number, with lifts, tons of turns, gymnastics movements, everything they were known for on the show. At one point, Neil went off stage, and Sabra did a solo with some nice moves; then they switched, and Neil did his solo with multiple fouettes (beautifully) and his signature 540 jump! Needless to say, that number also got a huge ovation.

At the end, they came out for a curtain call and the crowd went wild. It was SUCH a great performance, and it must have been so much fun for them. And the rest of the ballet was very enjoyable, too, especially the two "leads" from the New York City Ballet and the Miami City Ballet who danced the Sugar Plum fairy and the Prince. I'm sure Sabra especially enjoyed watching them, as she has said that she never saw the Nutcracker before.

They'll be repeating their performances tomorrow (Sunday) at 1 pm and again at 5 pm.

Anyway, for me, it was a great end to the whole SYTYCD experience.

Thanks BC! What a great report!

Here's a video from another audience member.
Uploaded by TrivallieObsessed