Audiences still love famous ballet
Val Caniparoli was all smiles the morning after the opening of the Ryman Healthcare Season of The Nutcracker by the Royal New Zealand Ballet at Wellington’s Opera Hous.
The ballet’s choreographer was happy with the dancers’ performance but he was most happy with the way the audience reacted — they loved it.
“Of course there will always be checks and little tweaks after every performance but I thought everything went really well.”
Caniparoli grew up in Seattle, and has always been interested in music, theatre and literature. This is the fourth Nutcracker he has been involved with. He says audiences these days are more forgiving of ballet.
“Remember we don’t get hours of time on stage like theatre. There are so many moving parts in a ballet that I think the audience might not worry if there was a slight imperfection on opening night.
“We also have to think about the fact that the dancers are learning multiple parts. They don’t just dance one character and that’s really to keep them on their toes,” he laughs. “Especially on big tours like this one, it would be quite boring if they had to dance the same dance every time.
“There is no school to learn these things, you learn by doing,” he says about skills for the job.
“You have to make your own chances and do whatever you can to make it work. I first choreographed at school then I got invited to the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. A lightbulb went on at that stage and I decided I wanted to dance. By this stage I was in my late teens, well maybe I might have even been 20 — I loved old movies and was mesmerised by Gene Kelly. I lied about my age when I started ballet classes —IsaidI was 16. The competition was so high it was a difficult route to go down but I did it.”
This is the first Nutcracker he has been involved with outside the US. Each one is different but he tries to stay true to ETA Hoffmann’s Nutcracker original story. Caniparoli has danced The Nutcracker as Herr Drosselmeier and at 67 still dances for San Francisco Ballet as a principal character dancer.
“I can’t say that I completely enjoy dancing now but it keeps me on the other side — being bossed about and told what to do — it keeps me honest.”
He has travelled the world. “Some would kill to have what I have. I am never complacent though — I have to compete with the young so I can’t be,” he says. When not working he loves to eat out, and movies.
The Nutcracker, Napier Municipal Theatre, December 1.