Sunday, December 13, Milwaukee Ballet finished its first weekend of Michael Pink’s “The Nutcracker.” The world-famous Christmas favorite runs now through December 27 and is already meeting great support with large audiences filling The Marcus Center’s seats. Sunday’s 4:30 performance featured guest artist Arionel Vargas as Karl/The Nutcracker Prince, who delighted the audience with his artful and expressive portrayal.
Arionel Vargas is a Cuban dancer touring as a guest artist after his 11-year residency with The English National Ballet. From the moment Vargas walks on stage, he captivates audience with his expressiveness and light-hearted portrayal of the hero. His combination of flawless technique, superb acting, and effortless movements make for an incredible performance not to be missed.
Vargas is paired perfectly with Luz San Miguel as Marie, which is showcased especially well in the final act. Vargas and San Miguel match each other very well through synchronized movements, pas de deuxs, highly technical lifts, and artful expression. The pair make challenging choreography seem effortless, literally leaving the audience breathless.
While there were the occasional dancers who struggled to maintain their character while nailing the technique, the vast majority of the dancers brought their own personal twist to the characters, making them a delight to watch, not only as dancers, but as actors. Besides Vargas, “The Nutcracker” highlights presented themselves in Alexandre Ferreira and Annia Hidalgo as the Spanish couple, Isaac Sharratt and Susan Gartell as the Arabian couple, and Janel Meindersee as the Snow Queen. It’s challenging to select any one dancer as the star of a production like this, as everyone brought something new and exciting to the stage.
One of the many things that make Milwaukee Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” so special is how it features children. “The Nutcracker” is entertaining for children, adults, ballet novices, and seasoned veterans, but its mystical theme and childlike perspective make it ideal for children. The Children’s Cast plays a major role in “The Nutcracker” as they’re incorporated with the Company dancers in many of the scenes, highlighting their talent and stamina as they keep up with professional adult dancers. Similarly, Milwaukee Children’s Choir adds a level of childlike wonder as the impressive set design, lighting, and choreography work to transport the audience to a magical land.
“The Nutcracker” has a lot going on with many dancers onstage at any given moment, but it works to depict the busy, cheerful nature of Christmastime. The production presents audiences with a lot to see and be amazed by, from costumes to music to plot to the impressive choreography. “The Nutcracker” runs now through December 27 and tickets are available online or by calling 414-902-2103.