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The New Nutcracker


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#16 canbelto

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 10:11 PM

Can anyone who's seen the production say whether this Nutcracker is based more on Vainonen or Balanchine? I like both ideas very much, and it seems every Nutcracker is more inspired by Vainonen's vision or Balanchine's.
Any chance this Nutcracker will be videotaped??? That would be WONDERFUL!!! And thanks Sharon for the wonderful review!

#17 sfshaza

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Posted 21 December 2004 - 01:40 AM

Someone more expert at ballet will have to answer this regarding choreography. But I did look up Vainonen and this does seem to have some of the story elements of Vainonen - there's no Sugar Plum Fairy, for example. The Sugar Plum Fairy role is actually Clara as an adult.

According to one description I found about Vainonen vs Balanchine, it said:
A Nutcracker as a child's dream fantasy filled with sweets and fun (Balanchine) or a romantic dream of a teenaged girl (Vainonen).

While this is an older Clara (she's on the transition to womanhood and is played by 13-16 year olds - in the past it's been younger Claras), I wouldn't call it tremendously romantic. One interview I read said that Helgi wanted an older Clara because he wanted her concern for the injured prince to be believable - he said he didn't just want a pretty face. (There are 4 Claras this year - usually there are 3. Three are students and one is a company apprentice.)

At the end of the Nutcracker Clara wakes up on her sofa, looks around at her livingroom as if she can't believe she's home, picks up her Nutcracker and runs up the staircase into the arms of her mother as the curtain descends. Both times I saw it I teared up - it's very sweet.

I gather that another Vainonen tradition is that most of the roles are played by adults. That is true for the Prince - he's now played by a company member. This is not a dark version of Nutcracker and there is no undercurrent of any relationship between Clara and Drosselmeyer beyond that of a kindly uncle. But is it inspired by Vainonen in the larger sense? I don't know and I haven't seen any articles or interviews that mention this distinction.

I doubt that any video will be made for sale. Of course the company has their own copies and on a local channel there was a half hour special that had snippets of it. I do wish that at least a book would be made with photos. If you can't tell, I'm a freak about the costumes. :blink: One reason I'm not a huge Balanchine fan - I *like* costumes!!! And story! All that Balanchine last season was tough on me. I'm not enough of a ballet purist to love dance for dances sake without the other frippery. (You should know that I didn't care a whit about ballet until my daughter got passionate. So I started taking her to performances and educating myself by reading books. Just like I go to my other daughter's soccer games and Aikido classes. So I can't pretend to be a real balletomane. In fact, I never know how to pronounce that word. :lol: )

Sharon

#18 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 December 2004 - 04:01 AM

Not having seen the production, but having read various descriptions of it, I can see the Vainonen influence in making the Clara the ballerina part. Actually, this is a telescoping of three parts in the original libretto, Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Marianne, the last-named being a favorite cousin or older sister. But apart from that, I'd say the sense of the production is closer to the Balanchine concept, in that it hews to the original libretto fairly closely. The divertissement is not merely sweets and goodies, but a celebration of prosperity as illustrated by consumer goods. A great number of the original products were recognizable brands newly available on the Russian market.

#19 BalletGirl

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Posted 21 December 2004 - 02:06 PM

It all sounds so exciting!! Can anyone give a little more description of the divertisments? Also, is Helgi using any new dancers for leads roles. . . or anyone new that we should watch out for?? I wish I could go to see the new production!

#20 balletdad

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 12:49 PM

The smoke was incense that they burned. It irritated the kids quite a bit. No smoke under the tent in the new show.

I saw Pipit-Suksun dance snow queen Sunday (12/26, matinee). She is a lovely dancer but made a few technical mistakes and was generally less than vertical. She seemed to be making Stephan Legate work a bit too hard.

Otherwise a wonderful production. My compliments to Caroline Hearst as Clara. She hit the "girl between kid and adult" thing just right.

#21 lillianna

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 06:36 PM

The website does not list the girls playing Clara. Does anyone know which girls are performing that role?

#22 sfshaza

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 10:25 PM

There are 4 Claras:
Caroline Hearst (opening night)
Lauren Foose (the one in all the TV and print ads - Helgi primarily
choreographed the role on her last summer - how cool is that?)
Renee Donovan
and the 16-year-old apprentice. I'm sorry, but I don't know her name.

I agree that Caroline did a great job.

Sharon

Edited by sfshaza, 27 December 2004 - 10:31 PM.


#23 sfshaza

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Posted 27 December 2004 - 11:01 PM

I found another review. It's from the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.c....html?oref=regi

(You need to register on the site, but it's free.)

Sharon

#24 sfshaza

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Posted 29 December 2004 - 08:02 PM

For those of you interested in specifics about the principal dancers performances, here's a review by someone who saw the new Nut more than once:
http://www.voiceofda...500000000000199

I had friends in the audience for the 21st when the mouse king's head fell off. They said he dealt with it gracefully, but it's mentioned in this article.

Another friend of mine saw it today and he thought the orchestra was flawless. He said he couldn't remember hearing such a beautiful orchestra -- both his parents played in the SF Symphony orchestra years ago. He loved the new Nut, but he wanted to talk more about the orchestra. :)

Sharon

#25 BalletGirl

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Posted 30 December 2004 - 07:04 AM

Sharon,

Thanks for all the reviews and links!!

#26 balletdad

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Posted 01 January 2005 - 04:50 PM

The name of the fouth Clara (the apprentice) is Andrea McGinnis. She dances doll, snofwlake, and flower in some shows, too.


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