AUDIENCE REVIEW: Finding the Sunlight in the Blizzard: A Nutcracker Like No Other with Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques
Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques
December 17, 2020 - December 30, 2020
Award-winning, internationally-recognized Creole, French-American choreographer and director Carole Alexis’s swiftly-rising professional company Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques (or “Ballet of the Americas”) presented twenty-five immersive live performances of The Nutcracker: Drosselmeyer’s Workshop at the historic Wainwright House in Rye, New York this past holiday season from December 17th to December 30th. Featured in the international dance magazine, Pointe, as one of very few professional ballet companies performing The Nutcracker live this past holiday season, Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques performed Alexis’s marvelously enchanting, immersive Nutcracker adaptation with a unique guided-tour performance structure ingeniously designed by Alexis. The production—seamlessly incorporating COVID-19 safety measures with incredible costumes, choreography, concept, and design—garnered huge success with a multitude of impassioned standing ovations and sold-old performances.
First created in 1892 by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, The Nutcracker ballet is set to the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and based on the livret of Alexander Dumas after E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. While numerous adaptations of this quintessential holiday staple have been created over the years, Carole Alexis’s production this past December stood out from the rest with its striking beauty and exquisite originality.
Drawing from an impressive performing arts career spanning Africa, France, the Caribbean, and the Americas, Alexis is an internationally-recognized choreographer and a mega-star in her country of Martinique, where her original choreographies filled the national theater to capacity with sold out audiences in February 2019 at Tropiques Atrium Scène Nationale. Recognized as a child-prodigy by the great Aimé Césaire and the legendary Maurice Béjart for displayed extraordinary choreographic and performing arts skills at a very young age, Carole Alexis stands at the helm of her art form of dance as a powerful Creole, female choreographer. Undeterred by the challenges of the indefinite closure of theaters, severe limitations and financial ramifications of COVID-19, and her own personal battle to overcome the virus, Alexis triumphantly presented her mesmerizing, live adaptation of The Nutcracker at the Wainwright House this past December—a truly indescribable gift to all in attendance:
Audience members took one step into the historic mansion and were swept into an enchanted land of magnificent beauty, immeasurable grace, and warm, enveloping light. Magical dancing dolls, sugarplums, snowflakes, flowers and so many more danced joyously and harmoniously in a swelling poetry of motion to the majestic score of the great Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The dancers’ dazzling inner light illuminated the soul with awe, inspiration, and hope as audience members were guided by a charismatic yet mysterious host, Herr Drosselmeyer, from room to room throughout the sumptuous mansion.
One gift of dance after another was offered in breathtaking succession. Glittering like stardust on the wings of a fairy, the dancers seemed almost unreal—embraced in the effulgent light of the sun, the serenity of the rising moon, and the gentle radiance of glowing stage lights.
Spectators’ eyes—some darkened with the hidden sorrow of unending winter and the harshness of prolonged separation, unforgiving computer screens, and hidden smiles—brightened suddenly upon entering the mansion. Trickles of joy danced their way into the corners of the audience members’ eyes until they overflowed into tears of gratitude.
Do we not all need reminders of beauty and light, connection and love—and to see with our own eyes the resilience and magnificence of the human spirit transcending circumstance? In excerpt after excerpt, though we knew not how, the dancers guided the audience members—children and adults alike—to unforgettable magical realms.
Flowers danced in glorious unison, hands in a rainbow of colors intertwined in a waltz of heart-song-filled beauty, tutu tulle luminously glowing in the stage lights, and warm eyes shining joyously as if to speak for the beautiful smiles no doubt hidden beneath the dancers’ sparkling masks.
Dancers soared through the air and for a moment the audience members caught their breath as one. From whence had these majestic beings come? Or were they simply messengers reminding us of our own innate magic?
The snowflakes danced like kings and queens of the swirling wind in Alexis’ original choreography—gentle at first, and then triumphantly through the blizzard’s fury, carrying us in sweeping waves of joyous winter song and then settling gracefully to the earth in peaceful repose.
In dance after dance, we glimpsed fleeting moments of startling beauty, passion, and connection. We were offered invaluable gifts of indescribably precious moments for which time itself seemed to stop—like the hug of a loved one we have not seen in years; the first cry of a newborn; or the profound bonding eye to eye, heart to heart, soul to soul, with one we truly love.
Some things in life we will never forget..
Through the rushing, frigid winds of a snow storm, a ballet dancer graciously welcomed us into the warm light emanating from the doors of the Wainwright House. She danced toward the light of the entrance, beckoning us to join her.
Should we follow?
Our eyes met hers and beneath our masks we smiled.. and followed her one step at a time into the light and into the Dance.
For the time being, we stayed six feet behind. Not too far off on the horizon, however, Spring awaited patiently, holding a newborn child in her arms. She was dancing majestically in a gown of infinite sunlight and limitless love—and from her open eyes fell gentle tears of happiness and healing for all of humanity.
Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques has performed internationally and nationally to sold-out audiences and continues to perform safely in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines through Carole Alexis’ Dancing Caravan Project. More information can be found at:
Donations to support Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques can be made at the official company website above or at:
Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.
Daniel S. Zalvernara
Carole Alexis Company/Ballet des Amériques