Watching the Last Joffrey Nutcracker Performance for Calvin Kitten....(and of course, Merry Xmas)
Merry Christmas everyone! Nutcracker is almost over and I have to admit that it was a fierce run. I am anxious to finally have a break and to not have to wake up the next morning facing another filled day of performances. When you start the run you have all the energy in the world, but rather quickly, the intensity of these performances and work schedule catches up with you. I'm at the point where I am simply rolling out of bed and then sliding my way to the bathroom because my ankles do not have any flexibility left, lol.
So far the run has been good for me. I do not have any major injuries that would make the end of my run very difficult. Yesterday was Christmas Eve and we had a show yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was Calvin Kitten's last Nutcracker Prince (read here
for an article in the Tribune). Calvin has been with the Joffrey for over 15 years and has had the greatest number of leads and soloist roles performed at the Joffrey. It was difficult for me to see him perform, even though he himself knew this day would come and is ready for what lies ahead for him. In him, you can see that he has more experience than any other dancer that has come through this company, making his performance yesterday almost perfect. He danced with amazing class, technique, and elegance (of course all that makes Calvin Kitten, Calvin Kitten) and it makes you wonder why he is retiring now. His name is nearly synonymous with the Joffrey and there will certainly be a palpable shift when he is no longer here.
For me it is clear. He taught all of us (in the younger generation of Joffrey dancers) how the work has to be executed. As much as some dancers may think that older dancers should give up or move on to make room, to me, all dancers should learn and watch intensely from those that came before. You would think that with youth comes more physical ability...well this year Calvin, at 38 and looking to retire at the end of the year, was the strongest out of all of us. There is something we must learn today and remember...the past makes our future and for that you must respect your ancestors, your past, your history, and mostly where you come from. Take the best or good of what they have, what they can offer, and what they created, and make it your own. It is with this knowledge and understanding that you are able to take the art form, the company, and yourself to the next level.
Learning from those with the experience and the knowledge, from those who have passed before, generation to generation, is essential for us to never remain stagnant, to evolve as Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino would have wanted, and the only way for us to keep improving.