Russell Janzen ’01 Leaps to NYC Ballet

By Kristin Sanderson

From the New York Times, December 31, 2013:

“All long runs of ‘The Nutcracker’ bring multiple castings. New York balletomanes revisit the productions at American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet to discover new facets of both experienced and novice dancers. The roles themselves change: this Sugar Plum Fairy is majesty itself, that one all twinkle; this Clara as Princess is fervent, but that one gleeful. Meanwhile, dancers change and grow as they tackle multiple roles.

“City Ballet’s current revival of ‘George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker’ — which opened on Nov. 29 at the David H. Koch Theater and will conclude with its 47th performance on Saturday evening — has been presenting 16 different women as the Sugar Plum Fairy, 12 men as her cavalier, 14 women as the Dewdrop, nine men as Candy Cane, eight women as the leading dancer of Marzipan, and nine as Coffee, among other roles. Most of these dancers are experienced interpreters of their roles in this classic. The season, however, has brought a few notable debuts.

“Ashley Laracey and Russell Janzen made their debuts as the Sugar Plum couple on Dec. 22 . . . Mr. Janzen has height, bearing, amplitude, a good stage face. He impressed as a partner while he was still at the School of American Ballet; he joined the City Ballet corps in 2008. His skill in steering Ms. Laracey through the varied demands of the adagio suggests that he is one of nature’s cavaliers, but his brief solo also suggests that he has elegance within bravura. Followers of the company will now feel a certain impatience about both these dancers — when will we see them next in any featured, let alone leading, roles? — but of their immediate rightness for the “Nutcracker” lead couple, there should be no doubt.”

Read the full article.