Boston Ballet brings ‘Nutcracker’ magic, energy online

Every performance, every step and waltz and brisé, comes with a different energy for the Boston Ballet’s Viktorina Kapitonova. This energy instills fresh magic into every night of “The Nutcracker” — the Tchaikovsky warhorse, holiday favorite and ultimate ballet gateway drug.
“When you go on stage, you are free,” Kapitonova said. “You try your best. Some things work well, some things don’t. And you leave (the stage) with just this moment.”
For its 2020-21 season, the Boston Ballet has gone virtual — what began with “Forsythe Elements” will continue with five more online offerings featuring new creations, signature works, and classical favorites (the series subscription is $180). Working in this new way, Kapitonova sees upside and downsides.
“Now we have time to revisit or do something again, which is a fantastic opportunity that you never get on stage,” she said with a laugh. “When you dance in the moment, you feel it and you enjoy it. But digitally, if something doesn’t work you can stop, you can repeat again. But it can actually be harder to get that energy.”
Despite Kapitonova’s preference for live performance, she’s spent a lot of time in lockdown working virtually. Beyond her “Boston Ballet pod” and its video work, she took part in a short-but-epic piece commissioned by the BBC. Filmed by dancers in their own bathtubs and produced and choreographed remotely by Corey Baker, “Swan Lake Bath Ballet” cut together 27 masters from companies around the world in a three-minute reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s other warhorse.
Next up, Kapitonova and her work as Dew Drop will be beamed out across New England when NBC10 Boston, NECN and Telemundo broadcast a one-hour special excerpted from the 2019 Boston Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.” The special debuts on Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC10 and will also be available free of charge on bostonballet.org for a limited time.
“Why we perform (live), why people come to see us in the theater, it is because it is more exciting, you get more emotion there (in the theater),” she said. “But we will reach a new audience now. ‘The Nutcracker’ is the first ballet that people come and see and now that it’s on TV and video more people will see it, people that have never been to the theater to experience the ballet.”
Kapitonova is right: Live and in-person performances offer something singular. But with everything from the Boston Ballet’s “Nutcracker” to the Boston Pops holiday concerts to the Handel & Haydn Society’s “Messiah” performances unsafe to put on as usual, maybe this year is about expanding arts audiences through new mediums. It’s easy to see how an hour of ballet on the small screen could spark a lifetime of love for the Boston Ballet, Tchaikovsky, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey or maybe even Viktorina Kapitonova.

Find more information at bostonballet.org.

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