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NutcrackerOnes that actually do it for you?


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#1 MinkusPugni

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 04:38 PM

I know there are lots of posts on the Nutcracker, but I was wondering... ever Nutcracker I ever see seems to disappoint me... none of them seem to fulfil the potential of the music and the setting. The one that has nearest fulfilled my expectations is the PNB's version. Which versions do you all love? Which version should I seek out and see so that I can actually be pleased by the Nutcracker?

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 07:52 PM

On DVD, Sir Peter Wright's.

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 08:10 PM

Balanchine's is my Gold Standard.

#4 rg

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 08:29 PM

mine too re: GB's NYCB production, but not as captured on video alas.

#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 December 2008 - 08:37 PM

Well, then we should divide this, because i thought that we were talking only about filmed versions. If this is the case, Wright, as I said earlier, is my pick. Live, I go for Alonso's even OVER Wright's.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 05:40 AM

Under all circumstances, I believe it is best to go see live. Video in whatever medium is a substitute, and some substitutes are better than others. Balanchine's works best in the theater, partly because it presents a tremendous dose of magic right there before an audience's eyes within a proscenium, no "camera tricks" involved.

#7 bart

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 06:30 AM

Balanchine's is my Gold Standard.

mine too re: GB's NYCB production, but not as captured on video alas.

I agree, but I'm often surprised at the intensity with which people not brought up on it say they "disllike it" and prefer ... (fill in the gap). Why? I wonder.

#8 rg

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 06:48 AM

for starters i've heard from a number of detractors who only know GB's staging from the limited video, and when i suggest they might withhold judgement until they see it on stage, they say, no, they're convinced it's not for them.
and to be sure they could well see it on stage and still not admire it.
but at least then they'll be seeing the ballet for themselves and not some camera's and director's point of view.
also, however scrupulous the Balanchine Trust might be, until i see this prod. produced by a company other than NYCB outside NYC, i'll withhold my judgement on those stagings until i see them for myself.
NYCB has a big school at its disposal for its annual performances, not to mention the full expanse and technical aspects of its Lincoln Center home theater, making compromises on any of the crucial production details might well make the 'live' staging of this work something less than 'accuarate.'

#9 Helene

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 07:38 AM

I think the same thing is true for Pacific Northwest Ballet's movie version from the mid-80's, which also tried to be a film and doesn't have much of the feel of the stage production or Maurice Sendak's sets.

The opening scene with Drosselmeier creating toys was magical on screen, and not part of the stage production; apart from that, the film flattened the performances.

It did, though, introduce me to Patricia Barker, who, even from my exclusively NYC/NYCB-centric viewpoint, was clearly a Balanchine ballerina. When I received a job offer in Seattle almost a decade later, knowing that I would see her and PNB in my new home was a major part of my decision to move.

#10 SanderO

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 09:46 AM

Mel makes a very good point about video - the magic is lost in the translation. There is no comparison to experiencing dance live and on video. Vids pale in comparison every time.

#11 papeetepatrick

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 10:45 AM

Balanchine's is my Gold Standard.


Definitely mine, too, EXCEPT...in the matter of taping, my memory of McBride/Villella just on crummy black-and-white TeeVee is more meaningful to me in terms of principal dancers than when I've seen the Balanchine Nutcracker live--but not the rest. I love the Balanchine 'Nutcracker', and is, in fact, why I chose not to go see the Kirov last week in Los Angeles and look at hair shirts on illuminated manuscripts instead; while I knew there would be great dancing, I still don't think it can be as gorgeous as the NYCB version. And this is even when hearing repulsively fast tempos making performances undistinguished--versions of 'Waltz of the Flowers' like for Mighty Mouse cartoons or something. But the First Act is perfect.

I suppose you're all referring exclusively to the Nutcracker needing to be seen in person rather than on video, rather than all dance. Because my experience is that the best Sleeping Beauty is the Kirov movie with Sizova and Soloviev more than any I've seen in person, and there are a few other examples--'Appalachian Spring' with Martha and Stuart and Bertram and Matt is even better in the black and white movie than even fine performances I've seen live. Were people talking about live vs. taped in general, or just Nutcracker? Of course, if I could see ENOUGH live performances, I'm sure I'd find that those taped performances I like best were better with the beloved casts than they are on the movies and tapes I love. But as for charm of the whole Nutcracker, the piece is much more wonderful live than recorded, even though I don't like the music to the Grand Pas de Deux, it's about as flat as it gets. I've also seen a lot of Nutcrackers on tape in the last few years, and haven't really cared for any of them, whether Bolshoi, Royal, Baryshnikov and somewhat strange-looking Gelsey, and I think a Kirov one too.

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 11:08 AM

Yes, indeed, patrick, my own preference spoke pretty much exclusively to Nutcracker. Other ballets may be captured somewhat successfully for the small screen, but IMO, you need to see a complete Nutz "on live". And I, too, recall McBride/Villella on Bell Telephone Hour, and Henning Kronstam and Kirsten Simone as well, dancing the pas de deux. That was, I think, my introduction to the idea that different choreography can exist to the same music - Balanchine vs. Ivanov, take your pick!

But I have noticed over the decades now since Balanchine died, that the headlong tempi to Snow and Flowers have abated somewhat, at least in the initial periods of the dances. Flowers used to rush along until the last ten notes - onetwothreefour FIIIIIIIIIVE~ sixseveneightnineten! No more. Pity! I used to like that fermata. And as to the music of the pas de deux, I still think it's the best thing that could happen to a G major scale! Isn't there a story out there that somebody bet Tchaikovsky that he couldn't make a tune out of a scale?

#13 rg

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:18 PM

for me it's all dance.
dance in 3 dimensions is where i see/understand what's what.
true, there are many treasurable films, but often these are aides memoires - or flashbacks; i've never graham dance anything live so the films of her are irreplaceable but APPALACHIAN SPRING or FRONTIER or NIGHT JOURNEY are only the 'dance' itself on stage, despite often mis- or weak casting.
in the case of some choregraphic works on film, such as Merce Cunningham's BEACH BIRDS FOR CAMERA - the camera version is its own 'thing' and yes being able to go back to the Fonteyns, Nureyevs, Baryshnkovs, Kolpakovas, Sizovas, Solovievs, Farrells, Villellas, McBrides, Bussells, etc. etc. on video is treat but it's for a performer more than for understanding a dance that the 2-D record is best suited from my point of view.

#14 Goldfish17

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:19 PM

I know there are lots of posts on the Nutcracker, but I was wondering... ever Nutcracker I ever see seems to disappoint me... none of them seem to fulfil the potential of the music and the setting. The one that has nearest fulfilled my expectations is the PNB's version. Which versions do you all love? Which version should I seek out and see so that I can actually be pleased by the Nutcracker?


Bolshoi Theater Nutcracker directed by Grigorovich is my all times favorite.

#15 Hans

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 05:43 PM

Mary Day's production for the Washington Ballet is the best all around, in my opinion.


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