I've just rewatched the Royal dvd with Anthony Dowell as Drosselmeyer. What a marvellous fusion of balletic movement and character depiction. I wonder if this is how the early Drosselmeier's -- from the original to the Balanchine generation -- were trained to do this role. We have still photos, but can anyone give us an idea of how these early Drosselmeier's actually moved?
It's a good question, because Ivanov and his contemporaries used a miming style that almost nobody knows how to do any more. It meshed near-danced motion with classical pantomime, and sometimes newly-invented gestures to convey meaning. In Nutcracker
s today, I guess the clearest example is the Prince's mime speech at the beginning of Act II. For "shoe", he points to his pwn shoe. Another example is the danced lullaby that Clara/Marie does with the other girls in Act I, interspersed with the boys marching through playing with their soldier gear and military band toy instruments. Tchaikovsky actually wanted the boys to be playing the gizmos, but it unsurprisingly turned out just noise, so he just advised Ivanov to have them do it, but maybe just a little softer.
Bournonville preserves this kind of dance/mime, and it can be seen in the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia
, and in a different way in Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardée
Dowell is actually the example I was thinking of when I mentioned Drosselmeyers who seem about ready to burst into Albrecht. IMO, he takes the dance/mime down the wrong fork of the road. Drosselmeyer is quirky, odd, queer (as Paul has mentioned), although he's not abused by the adults, the kids are sort of repelled by him, until he turns out to be a sort of spellbinder, with magic tricks and toys to show off, like a village's Old Man with wonderful stories to tell. Lidewij is very perceptive to pick up the Dr. Coppélius in him. That's the "Sandman" part of his character. His movements should reflect the same sort of oddness of his costume. In the RB's production, while everyone else is dressed in 19th-century, he's relentlessly 18th! He must be very old!!!