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nutcracker DVDany recommendation?


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#1 Katalina

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 07:51 PM

I am planning to buy another nutcracker DVD. Currently, I have one from the Royal Ballet (casting Cojocaru). I'd be very thankful if someone can help me out so that I can start expanding my nutcracker collection. If it's not too troublesome, please also include whether the version is kid-friendly or not. Thanks.

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 08:30 PM

Am i getting redundant by answering this question...?...Well, whatever, so here i go. Katalina, you currently own what i consider to be the ultimate "Nutcracker", the "royal" Royal. I wouldn't recommend any other than Sir Peter Wright's, but i know there are other favorite incarnations of the work among this board, so please, feel free to dig into some subforums dedicated to the topic. The Royal's is not another Nutcracker, it is THE Nutcracker. (Oh, if any recommendations, i would tell you to get a copy of the older production with Collier/Dowell on it. I own it, and I'm totally satisfied with it...)

#3 Katalina

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 09:59 PM

Thanks for the quick reply. Personally, I also believe the version that I have is brilliant but since I'm slowly learning to appreciate the art of ballet, having other versions to watch would not only give me hints to understand more on the choreography but also make the process a lot more interesting. For instance, under the Extra Features section of the Cojocaru version, Sir Peter Wright revealed that sometimes the original choreography (from Ivanov) would only have a very unimaginative brief suggestion on what to do and therefore he had to spice things up a bit and introduce new choreography to make e.g. the Waltz of the Snowflakes (the waltz to end Act One) more entertaining to watch. So, I'm hoping to see how other versions do and learn more through the perspective of artistic interpretation.

Cubanmiamiboy, thanks for your recommendation. I'd definitely check out the production with Collier/Dowell.

BTW, may I ask if the Act Two is shorter or longer than Act One in the Collier version, please?

#4 JMcN

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 12:06 AM

Sir Peter Wright also made a somewhat different but still very traditional production for Birmingham Royal Ballet (it was his "gift" to the City of Birmingham when the company moved there in 1990).

In my opinion the BRB production is absolutely THE ONE TO WATCH!!! I find it much more to my taste than the RB version and sometimes find it hard to believe that they were mounted by the same man. It is available on DVD with Miyako Yoshida and Irek Mukhamedov in the leading roles. I would love a newer film with some of the current BRB dancers - Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao would be my choice. It is advertised on the BRB website (www.brb.org.uk) on the "shopping" tab.

For a different take on the Nutcracker you could see if Matthew Bourne's version is available. This is set in a children's home that make's Oliver Twist's look like the Ritz and it is super fun.

I've seen lots of different videos from the Kirov and the Bolshoi available in the UK over the years, but have never watched any of them so can't comment.

#5 Katalina

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 02:21 AM

Thanks, JMcN. I truly appreciate your recommendations.

I just did some diggings on the BRB production... In case there are other nutcracker fans like me, the BRB production mentioned by JMcN is not currently available outside of Europe. This BRB production was filmed in 1994. I contacted BRB shop and they said the DVD was designed for Region Code 2 (PAL) and therefore not multi-region friendly. As well, they told me that since the license had already expired, they now only have limited copies available for this 1994 production.

Just thought I'd include the info here - BRB also said that you must call them to place an order over the phone if you reside outside of UK, i.e. BRB web site currently processes local orders but not international orders.

#6 Katalina

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:01 PM

I've finally obtained a copy of the BRB1994 (Yoshida/Mukhamedov) as well as the RB1985 (Collier/Dowell) versions of Nutcracker and after watching them in the weekend, I must say I agree with JMcN that the plot from BRB is better than all of the RB versions that I have. While Act One is very similar in all of the Sir Peter Wright's productions, the BRB's Act Two is about how Clara gradually becomes aspired and transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy, the ballerina of her dreams.

Although the picture quality of both of the older productions aren't as great as the recent Cojocaru's version, I'm pleased to have added them into my collection.

I just want to express my thanks to cubanmiamiboy and JMcN. :foot:

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 09:17 PM

the BRB's Act Two is about how Clara gradually becomes aspired and transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy, the ballerina of her dreams.

It's against God to morph Clara in something else than the seating girl being amused at the spectacle being offered. Her only task during the 2nd Act., offered back from XIX Century, is that of being a smiling pro, a little innocent girl performing series of clapping and happy nodding. Period!...and then,...Oohh, look who's coming... the sublime, ethereal, sugary, beautiful Fairy and her Cavalier. Musica, Maestro!!

#8 Katalina

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 11:50 PM

Cubanmiamiboy, I read an earlier thread of yours and I notice how much you love productions that are similar to the version of Mme. Alonso. So, I can understand why plots that deviate from Clara being the well-behaved spectator may not be your favorite cup of tea. :foot:

Looking at what I've written earlier, I also realize I've missed out a few little things - originally in Act One of the BRB production, Clara has a ballerina doll that looks like the Sugar Plum Fairy. So, when I see her dreaming, dancing and then transforming into the Sugar Plum Fairy in Act Two, I don't find it awkward.

As well, in Act Two, Clara is not transported to the Land of Sweets (with a white castle) but rather to a more colorful setting where the dream world of Clara's consists of the sun, the flowers and the dancers from the many lands.

I'm still working on expanding my nutcracker collection... The next nutcracker DVD that I'll be watching is the Balanchine's NYCB1993 version. :clapping:

#9 Ceeszi

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 02:43 AM

I have always loved the Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland "Nutcracker". I remember when it was first shown on television - Christmas Eve of 1978. It is a very rare thing to have Kirkland on DVD in her prime. I know Clara becomes the Sugar Plum Fairy in this one, but if anyone can pull that off - it's Kirkland!

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 02:46 AM

I believe that the original libretto, with a worldview that launched a million teen fangirlzines, is probably the best for the overall spirit of Nutcracker. You don't have to change, you're already perfect, and soon that movie star is going to come right down off the screen and whisk you away to magic. The BRB keeps that, in the main, so it's pretty good. The Balanchine will show you how this theming is exploited to the max without going over the top.

#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 11:58 AM

I wish i could say things the way Mel does...(so polite)-Anyways, totally agree with the above.
p.s-Katalina...what i love about Nut productions, is not their resemblance with Alonso's, but rather the following of the original sequence, in which Alonso's and Wright's fit in.

#12 canbelto

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 12:13 PM

Personally to me there is one Nutcracker that is superior to all and that is Mr. B's. I know Cubanmiamiboy will disagree but i don't think the reshuffling of the grand pas de deux is that unforgivable as to discount all the virtues of the production. The film has Maccauley Culkin as Prince but thankfully he doesn't do much harm.
I would AVOID any of the Bolshoi Nuts as they are Grigorivich's production, to wish I can only say ... um, it's not very good.

#13 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 12:33 PM

After reading Wiley, it became clear to me that Balanchine had reordered the pas de deux in response to old criticisms that the ballerina did not have enough to do until the very end. Musically, I've never missed the male variation there, as it is a rather wheezy piece of music actually left over from a proposed divertissement in the first scene that didn't make it to production.

As to Culkin, yes, I agree that he doesn't hurt the show badly, but it's funny to see him with his contemporaries who stayed with ballet after he dropped it. He was an SAB student, and you can see the self-consciousness all over his performance. It wasn't exactly fish-out-of-water, but more like frog-underwater-too-long. I found myself feeling sorry for him, a bit.

#14 Katalina

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 01:11 PM

Thanks for all the great feedback!

Cubanmiamiboy, thanks for the clarification. I "winked" in my earlier reply because I've always loved the way your passion for ballet shines through in all of your posts.

It's such a joy to see people not afraid to represent their passion with honesty in this world and I'm glad to find plenty of great enthusiasts in this forum. :)

While this may seem quite stupid to confess, I started the process to collect nutcrackers because I want to see more of the "Waltz of the Snowflakes" in different productions. I know this scene may seem trivial to many but it's what ignites my desire to watch ballet again. After deliberately not touching the subject of ballet for almost 20 years, it's not easy to catch up. So, thanks for accommodating me here and I just hope I don't sound like a nuisance to everyone. :tiphat:

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 July 2008 - 03:39 PM

And why not? Pavlova toured with her company with the Nutcracker Snow pas de deux (arranged on the transformation music) and snow waltz. I'm convinced that the only reason it's not heard on its own more is that it's in the same show as two of the other most ebullient waltzes (flowers and finale) that Tchaikovsky ever wrote!

You never need to excuse yourself here for allowing the rest of us to opinionate on a topic you start! :tiphat:


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