Canfield vs Balanchine Nutcracker
Posted 09 September 2003 - 08:40 AM
What do you think? Are you looking forward to this version? Will you miss the old Nut? What about "The Nut Has Finally Cracked" parody? Will you miss that, too?
Throw in your two cents, and I'll throw in mine!
Posted 09 September 2003 - 05:00 PM
Posted 10 September 2003 - 06:28 AM
The basic concept of Canfield's Nutcracker is that Marie is an anspiring ballerina who is visited on Christmas Eve by famous Maryinki ballerina Kschessinskaya. Faberge substitutes for Drosselmeyer. In the dream sequence, Kschessinskaya dances the Sugar Plum Fairy. The main difference obviously, is that the role of Marie is danced by a principal dancer, providing opportunities for some some wonderful pas de deux with the Nutcracker Prince.
I invite someone else to fill in the rest of the description...
Posted 09 October 2003 - 01:21 PM
The things with that I dont understand about the Balanchine Nutcracker and others alike are just this:
- Where do the rats in Maria/Clara's dream come from? She just goes to bed on Christmas night and dreams of rats?
- What makes this Nutcracker Doll so great that it becomes her prince in her dream?
- Who is this Snow Queen and cavalier? Where do they fall into the picture?
- who is Dewdrop? Why is she dancing what is her purpose?
- Why, besides the fact that kids like candy, is Clara taken to the land of Candy?
- Who is this Sugar plum Fairly person? Who made her the ruler of Candyland?
Here is where Canfields version corrects some of the problems and story gaps in some of the more well known productions.
- Marie gets scared by her unruley brother who brings a dead rat out on a platter for her as a present. Little does she know, it's a dead rat under that cover and Peter plans to chase her with it when it is revealed.
- Fabrege, Marie's godfather brings his nephew, Marius a cadete in the Russian army to the Christmas party to be introduced to Marie's older sister Alexis(?). When Marie sees Marius she is instantly taken by him, a crush ensues and he becomes the nutcracker prince in her dream.
- In the party scene, Marie's parents present to her, as her Christmas present, ballet lessons from Matilda Kshesinskaya. In Marie's eyes she is the most beautiful talented person. Hence, she becomes the Snow Queen, Lily of the Valley(dewprop), and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Marie's dream.
- Marie is taken on a magical trip throughout the seasons by the Nutcracker Prince (Marius), who then surprises Marie with a trip to the Mariinsky Theatre, where the stars of the Ballet dance a divertissement of styles from around the world.
- In the grand pas de deux at the end, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her mysterious, unexplained cavalier do not dance, rather Marie and the Nutcracker Prince dance in gratitude, cementing...that dreams can and do come true.
Sorry I get a little worked up
Posted 09 October 2003 - 03:47 PM
1. Where do the rats in Maria/Clara's dream come from? She just goes to bed on Christmas night and dreams of rats?
Yes. Rats and mice were a part of every 19th century household. So this doesn't necesarily have a deep psychological significance. If you were a 10 year old girl and a mouse ran over your foot on a regular basis, you might dream of them too! (There are stories about the theaters of that day that people in the stalls -- orchestra to us -- took umbrellas to performances to beat off the rats.)
2. What makes this Nutcracker Doll so great that it becomes her prince in her dream?
He's an enchanted prince, and she knows this because she's breen brought up on fairytales.
3. Who is this Snow Queen and cavalier? Where do they fall into the picture?
who is Dewdrop? Why is she dancing what is her purpose?
They don't have a dramatic purpose. They're divertissements. This ballet comes from the ballet feerie tradition, and the divertissements are thematically related to the story, but not dramatically so.
4. Why, besides the fact that kids like candy, is Clara taken to the land of Candy?
Same reason -- a divertissement. Although if you'd like to read more background on this, Mel Johnson has done an excellent historical summary of Nutcracker that's on our main site here
5.Who is this Sugar plum Fairy person? Who made her the ruler of Candyland?
Not to be taken literally. It's thematic, not dramatic. If you're doing a ballet with a divertissement set in a Kingdom of the Sweets, you need a ballerina.
I think Petipa/Ivanov were operating under different assumptions and from within a different tradition. These are all good questions if you're coming to Nutcracker wanting a narrative ballet that makes contemporary dramatic sense. But it was made as a ballet that appealed to the senses, that didnt tell a story in a literal way, but left a lot of scope for imagination. Someone might read all kinds of things -- relationships among the characters, what does Tea really symbolize, etc. And others might view it as a poem. Why does Robert Frost write of Snow, and stopping by the woods? Is it really about winter? Or about his inner life, his time of life, using the beauty of nature and imagery to make his point. If one thinks of Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty as poems, one asks different questions.
Posted 09 October 2003 - 06:19 PM
Posted 09 October 2003 - 06:37 PM
And by the way Jameth - many thanks for your great "play by play" (in honor of the Yankees vs Boston game tonight!).
Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:54 PM
Posted 09 October 2003 - 10:56 PM
Posted 09 October 2003 - 11:01 PM
The Snow Queen can make sense as well - the music is called (at least on some scores) "Journey through the Snow"; it's the place that Clara and the Prince pass through to get to the kingdom of the sweets. In versions I've seen that I've liked (and adopted myself when I choreographed a Snow Scene many years ago) the beginning of the music is used to have the Snow Queen greet Clara and wish her safe passage through her kingdom. Clara continues on her way and the Queen and her cavalier dance.
To expand a bit on what Alexandra said, there are other logics besides narrative logic out there. Much of what Balanchine, Petipa or any of the other classical choreographers did makes sense as a classical distillation; the form is the content. Just as one trains oneself and is educated to look for narrative soundness, you can also tune yourself in to the logic of the form as well. (One place to experiment - Balanchine's Midsummer Night's dream, where Act II is the classical abstraction of Act I)
Posted 10 October 2003 - 02:37 AM
Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:00 AM
I have no opinion regarding the various versions of Nutcracker. My interest is basically historical in nature. Major Johnson has written a very informative and interesting piece on Nutcracker. Thank you kindly! :grinning:
Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:09 AM
Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:23 AM
Posted 10 October 2003 - 05:57 AM
Also, what year is your program? Sounds like it might predate this version we're talking about. I believe it premiered in '94. I think there was another version dating from '90.
As far as I know, BW, no other company has ever performed this version. It has only been pitched to the hometown fans in the local ballpark. (As someone who took a Little League batting clinic from Ted Williams, I too am honoring the Yankees & Red Sox. Pedro & Roger on Sat...I'm in heaven!)
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