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NutcrackerOnes that actually do it for you?


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#16 LiLing

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Posted 26 December 2008 - 06:21 PM

I think it is a given that a ballet choreographed for the stage is going to be experienced differently on video. Especially one with the stage illusions of a Nutcracker. I find the adults simpering portrayals of children in ABT's video unbearable ( but not Gelsey ). It didn't appear so phony from the distance of the stage, but still, I prefer to see children played by children.
I also love the GB, and can still be transported and moved by it after many years of viewing. Theatre is a communal activity, and a Nutcracker performance is best when you are surrounded by excited children. The video is spoiled in my opinion by Macaulay Culkin's smug self conscious performance, especially as the SAB children are so natural.
I enjoyed the San Francisco broadcast tremendously. I would love to see that one on stage!

#17 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 03:42 AM

A definite agreement on not using adults to portray children; it's a convention that doesn't work. If you want to portray adolescent angst, get a libretto after S.E. Hinton or Judy Blume, and leave Nutcracker alone.

Gelsey seemed to float serenely through Baryshnikov's rather sour show, but a word here to defend the much-maligned Culkin. Facially, he was radiant in the part and he was able to execute the social dances adroitly, but early adolescence was already striking, and the stretch was already taking its toll on the accuracy of his arms and hands. (He was later to recover this skill) He had studied at SAB when he was 7, but by age 12, much of what he had learned was gone! He didn't even do the walk in a circle ("pay close attention to this" in mime) at the beginning of the Act II mime speech. Balanchine wanted people to know about this detail so much, that he even included it in the first of his Stories of the Great Ballets books. That slow and majestic walk is often called "the most difficult step in all of classical ballet!" It's tough to get right, so I have sympathy for Mr. Culkin in his situation.

#18 rg

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:56 AM

couldn't agree more with you Mel on M.Culkin - the derision heaped on him at times borders in my view on child abuse.
i rem. someone's ranting mercilessly about his 'lipstick.' it seemed to me he just had rather red lips, naturally, esp. given the palor of his skin.
the dislike/distaste aimed at this performance also smarted, it seemed, of what i call 'adoniphobia' - blind antagonism to a fine looking young man. one could question the close-ups as directorial problems but why blame Culkin for these. if similar decisions were made for close-ups on a girl, i doubt the same ridicule would have been voiced.
the NUTCARCKER film is not a success and Culkin wasn't carefully prepared enough for his role, but the fault was with those who cast him, and then didn't really ready him for the part, not with him directly.

#19 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:36 AM

I quite agree, rg, and "adoniphobia" certainly seems like an appropriate way to characterize the nastiness which was sent Culkin's way. In 1993, his family was already involved in the squabbling over management rights and parental custody, which came to Mac being declared an "emancipated minor" at age 15! All of this is publically notorious, but I cannot imagine, on my most pessimistic day, what it must have been like to have been him while all that domestic unpleasantness was happening. He indeed was much sinned against, and was a sacrifice to "star power".

#20 papeetepatrick

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 11:16 AM

A definite agreement on not using adults to portray children; it's a convention that doesn't work. If you want to portray adolescent angst, get a libretto after S.E. Hinton or Judy Blume, and leave Nutcracker alone.

Gelsey seemed to float serenely through Baryshnikov's rather sour show,


Yes, she did as well as possible, but it always reminds me of an art history class on Italian Baroque painting, the British professor referred to 'a rawther lahge angel, it always looks a bit dangerous to me...', and this was pretty apparent, given that the blessed and blessing angel was filling up half a room. So while Gelsey may be the best one could have if one insists on these adults acting children, even she looks like 'a rawther lahge child.' It is true, though, that she's all I remember well about this video, which I only got around to watching about 4 months ago.

#21 dirac

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 02:19 PM

the dislike/distaste aimed at this performance also smarted, it seemed, of what i call 'adoniphobia' - blind antagonism to a fine looking young man. one could question the close-ups as directorial problems but why blame Culkin for these. if similar decisions were made for close-ups on a girl, i doubt the same ridicule would have been voiced.


The criticism of Culkin was far too harsh but I had the impression it was not so much due to his sex as a bit of 'taking the star down a peg' - quite unfair to a child in any case.

The lips were a trifle distracting, I must allow, although I should never have committed that to print as a working critic.

Kirkland was lovely in that Nutcracker, although I dislike the production. There is so little of her dancing available on commercial video.

#22 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:01 PM

A definite agreement on not using adults to portray children; it's a convention that doesn't work. If you want to portray adolescent angst, get a libretto after S.E. Hinton or Judy Blume, and leave Nutcracker alone.


On the contrary, having real ballet dancers of 17,18 portraying kids aged 13-16 in a profesional production had been a more pleasant experience to me that that of having the impression of going to an elementary school ballet recital. At the end, for me, the more pointe work, the more visually motivated I get, so if none,well... boooooring!
So about leaving the Nutcracker alone, yes....let's leave it to real dancers.

#23 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:22 PM

However, remember, Stanislava Belinskaya was 12. Know who she was? The original Clara. Infantilizing adults is not a comfortable evening's watching, for me.

#24 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 06:23 PM

I have seen pics of the old Imperial productions, and yes, I am aware that children were used-(as well as in Swan Lake to play little swans, if I remember well). But this fact does no add that much to my perception that little kids diminish-(on my eyes)-a professional production. I see it more as me being part of a different, more demanding audience, that of the XXI Century, in which flying Willis and the likes are gone to give room to more technically daring/dancing-oriented productions. Plus, the denomination of "adult" vs. "kid" is objectionable too. For me 16 y.o is being adult already, (coming from a place where this is the legal start of adulthood), whereas according to American standards 16 y.o's are still kids...
Thanks for the info on Clara's original dancer. I didn't know about her. But well, as the old saying says: "I just know that i know nothing"
:excl:

However, remember, Stanislava Belinskaya was 12. Know who she was? The original Clara. Infantilizing adults is not a comfortable evening's watching, for me.

Oh, just remembering that was the age my great grandmother had when she got married :excl:

#25 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 06:43 PM

In Nuremberg?

#26 carbro

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:04 PM

To ME :excl: adults in children's roles never convey the innocence that children can. They feel fake and, in general, they lack dignity. But that's just me.

While I am firmly on the side of letting children be children, I have to say that one of the most touching moments in my Nut experience was in 1980, the moment when the SPF leads the Act II children into a line to welcome Marie and her Prince. The SPF was the 16-year-old Darci Kistler, closer in age to the juvies in the cast than many of her professional peers. She had an adult radiance but a childlike innocence -- and still a slight awkwardness in walking.

I've seen the PNB on TV, and the designs were wonderful, but I was bothered by their failure (and the choreography's) to suggest the dances' nationalities, which are so clearly in Tchaikovsky's music.

Balanchine is also my gold standard, but I haven't seen very many professional-level Nuts besides NYCB and ABT's Baryshnikov version. The ABT was widely praised for Baryshnikov's staging of Vainonen's Snowflakes, but I didn't care for that choreography. What I did admire about that staging was Baryshnikov's ability to bridge the acts by repeating patterns from the one into the other. It was a reaction I had at the time, but ask me now and without the aid of video, I'd be hard pressed to say exactly where.

#27 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:05 PM

In Nuremberg?

:excl:
In Cuba, 1909. My grandmother was born three years later, in 1912, her mother being 15. They were 11 brothers and sisters. At one point mother and daughter were pregnant at the same time, the mother giving birth even before the daughter.

BTW...why Nuremberg...?

#28 carbro

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:25 PM

BTW...why Nuremberg...?

Setting of Nutcracker.

The internet is full of sites for geneaology. Let's try to stay close to the topic.

Thanks.

#29 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:39 PM

BTW...why Nuremberg...?

Setting of Nutcracker.

The internet is full of sites for geneaology. Let's try to stay close to the topic.

Thanks.

Oh, sorry for the inconvenience. My point being the fact that a ballet dancer who's in his/her teens has a wide range of possibilities to be convincing just by "acting" the part, given the fact that he or she can be viewed either as an adult or a kid depending on his/her physique and the viewer's own perception of adulthood.

#30 volcanohunter

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Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:57 PM

I love the Balanchine version. I was about to write "unequivocally," except that I've never cared for the extended sequence with Marie's bed going round and round the stage. I find the rest completely magical and was able to convert one self-described ballet hater into a Balanchine lover by taking him to a performance of Mr. B's Nutcracker. When a grown man turns to you in the middle of the battle scene with a seven-year-old's look of enchantment on his face, you know that the ballet's "done it" for him.


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