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Nutcracker 2009

45 posts in this topic

The eggnog is on grocery shelves, and the plastic turkey centerpieces are almost gone from the "seasonal" aisle in my local shops -- it must be Nutcracker time. So, are you going? And if so, which one are you seeing? Or is there an alternative work that you pledge allegiance to?

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Good question. I love the score, and it's usually been enough to get me to performances every year, no matter how often I've seen a given production. However, I dislike the new Nutcracker of my local company very much, so I was planning to skip it for the foreseeable future, much as I hate to pass up any live ballet.

No doubt I'll go to the movies to see the Royal Ballet feed, watch most Nutcrackers that come up on television, and top it off with DVDs of Nutcrackers that aren't being broadcast this year. I can't help myself.

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Goh Ballet on the 18th. The PNB Stowell/Sendak "Nutcracker" on the 22nd.

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The folding of Ballet Florida has left a big Nutcracker void in our part of the world. Their huge and hugely popular Nutcracker filled the Kravis Center for 13 performances each year.

(I was looking forward to being, once again, a butler in the party scene. Now I'm just another of those unemployed artistes you hear about in bad economic times. On the other hand, the demand for servants across the Intercoastal in Palm Beach must still be strong. Surely Bernie Madoff didn't get everything. My periwig, jabot, and 18th-century livery must be hanging in storage somewhere. Hmmm. I wonder .... :) )

As a kind of replacement for Ballet Florida, the Kravis is bringing in the Moscow Classical Ballet for several performances, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I assume this is the Russian "adult" version, which means no kiddies. I've read good things about this company and can't wait. I just hope it sells.

The week before that, we're driving down to the Arsht Center for Miami City Ballet's Balanchine version, which I first saw at City Center when I was not much older than a kiddie myself. Because of my personal history, Balanchine is the "real" version for me. No matter what the rest of you say. :wink:

P.S. Helene, Alex Wong of MCB trained at Goh Ballet Academy and danced "with the company." I assume this included Nutcrackers, probably as a student. Any word on what he danced there?

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So what happened to this topic? :dunno: I know a few more than the three (count 'em) Ballet Talkers who have posted so far visiting the Nutcracker. :wink: Who else? And where?

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San Francisco Ballet, December 19 (taking some friends, husband and wife; I got her to Swan Lake last year -- her first ballet -- and she loved it so she insisted on bringing her husband to Nutcracker this year: her reasoning is that he doesn't snore, so if he gets bored and falls asleep, he won't bother anybody :dunno:); possibly The Hard Nut in Berkeley on the 12th if the finances hold up.

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. . .Balanchine is the "real" version for me.

His version is my favorite too, and since I can't make it up to NYC in December or into Washington next week for Pennsylvania Ballet, that means making do with the 1997 NYCB film, though I'll supplement them with the Royal Ballet's very different version from 2001 and San Francisco Ballet's from last year. And I love the excerpts ABT performed on a tiny stage at the White House in 2005, which C-Span recorded. But most of all I'm looking forward to watching Virginia Brooks' delightful 2006 film, "The Nutcracker Family: Behind the Magic," on NYCB Children's Ballet mistress Gabrielle Whittle and the children at SAB, and their long Nutcracker audition and rehearsal process.

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I can't believe it but ABT II is coming here to Costa Rica to perform The Nutcracker along with a national company at the National Theater. I'm really excited, and I already ordered my ticket. The performance is on December 3rd. I'll post again with a review of the performance.

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I can't believe it but ABT II is coming here to Costa Rica to perform The Nutcracker along with a national company at the National Theater. I'm really excited, and I already ordered my ticket. The performance is on December 3rd. I'll post again with a review of the performance.
What an amazing opportunity. I saw them here in south Florida a few seasons ago. I think you'll be impressed. Definitely tell us how the performance goes, Ballet fan.

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Is anyone planning to see Saratoga City Ballet? According to this article, former NYCB dancer William Otto, who teaches at the affiliated school, will dance Herr Drosselmeyer.

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Nutcracker news proliferates. :o American Ballet Theater is planning its own version, to be choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, to run head-to-head against NYCB's Balanchine version starting in 2010.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/arts/dan...1&ref=dance

Meanwhile, the NY Post an astonishing range of Nutcrackers, semi-Nutcrackers, Nutcracker knock-offs, Nutcracker parodies, postmodern Nutcracker critiques, etc., on its website.

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/thea...Wz79pdXt05Sl6rJ

This raises the question: are there possibly TOO MANY Nutcrackers around, in the USA at least. I know that the main justification is that these are money-makers, that they tap a voracious audience demand. Dancers, musicians and theater people get work. Lots of companies make money. Successful Nutcrackers subsidize less popular work during the remainder of the season. There's a trickle-down effect when some audience members who loved the Nutcracker also purchase tickets to something else. So ... what's not to like?

But could there be a down side? "Too many Nutcrackers" may also mean -- too few revivals and new works making use of different music, expressing a different aesthetic, etc. It may also mean too little in the way of developing new audiences for for other kinds of work. In economic terms, focusing on one hugely profitable category -- for example, General Motor's gas-guzzling trucks of recent memory -- may stifle innovation and make a company less competitive in the long run. Look what happened to GM.

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Ah, you have been channeling Sarah Kaufman from the Washington Post!

I tend not to think of Nut as a ballet so much as a holiday show, separate from the concerns I have for the art form at other times of the year. I don't know that there are too many Nuts per se, but I do know that almost every organization in my town, dance and otherwise, feels that they must have some kind of performing presence during the holidays, and that is a difficult proposition. It squeezes the audience into a tight spot, and puts a strain on the local venues. One of our local theaters lost their performance space to a fire early in November, and so they are doing the performance version of sleeping on other people's couches in order to do their holiday show.

In my particular part of the world, Pacific Northwest Ballet is the equivalent of the 800 pound gorilla with their Nutcracker -- it's really difficult to program against them. There are a few local dance groups, mostly kid and semi-pro, that do their own Nut, but they've had to find different ways to make a virtue out of a more modest production.

And tangentially, besides NYCB, Pennsylvania, Miami, and Oregon Ballet Theater, is there anyone else who performs the Balanchine Nut?

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Ah, you have been channeling Sarah Kaufman from the Washington Post!

I tend not to think of Nut as a ballet so much as a holiday show, separate from the concerns I have for the art form at other times of the year. I don't know that there are too many Nuts per se, but I do know that almost every organization in my town, dance and otherwise, feels that they must have some kind of performing presence during the holidays, and that is a difficult proposition. It squeezes the audience into a tight spot, and puts a strain on the local venues. One of our local theaters lost their performance space to a fire early in November, and so they are doing the performance version of sleeping on other people's couches in order to do their holiday show.

In my particular part of the world, Pacific Northwest Ballet is the equivalent of the 800 pound gorilla with their Nutcracker -- it's really difficult to program against them. There are a few local dance groups, mostly kid and semi-pro, that do their own Nut, but they've had to find different ways to make a virtue out of a more modest production.

And tangentially, besides NYCB, Pennsylvania, Miami, and Oregon Ballet Theater, is there anyone else who performs the Balanchine Nut?

Until recently, Stamford City Ballet performed Balanchine's version.

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Nutcracker news proliferates. :) American Ballet Theater is planning its own version, to be choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, to run head-to-head against NYCB's Balanchine version starting in 2010.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/arts/dan...1&ref=dance

Meanwhile, the NY Post an astonishing range of Nutcrackers, semi-Nutcrackers, Nutcracker knock-offs, Nutcracker parodies, postmodern Nutcracker critiques, etc., on its website.

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/thea...Wz79pdXt05Sl6rJ

This raises the question: are there possibly TOO MANY Nutcrackers around, in the USA at least. I know that the main justification is that these are money-makers, that they tap a voracious audience demand. Dancers, musicians and theater people get work. Lots of companies make money. Successful Nutcrackers subsidize less popular work during the remainder of the season. There's a trickle-down effect when some audience members who loved the Nutcracker also purchase tickets to something else. So ... what's not to like?

But could there be a down side? "Too many Nutcrackers" may also mean -- too few revivals and new works making use of different music, expressing a different aesthetic, etc. It may also mean too little in the way of developing new audiences for for other kinds of work. In economic terms, focusing on one hugely profitable category -- for example, General Motor's gas-guzzling trucks of recent memory -- may stifle innovation and make a company less competitive in the long run. Look what happened to GM.

Are there too many "Swan Lakes"? "Giselles"? "Sleeping Beautys"? For that matter, almost everyone dances "Rubies" If produced and danced well "Nutcracker" definitely has it's place. Handel's Messiah anyone?

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Handel's Messiah anyone?

He-he. Several years ago when my local symphony orchestra was soliciting subscriber opinions, I suggested performing Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ instead of Messiah some Christmas (on the grounds that Messiah should really be performed at Easter in any case). Not likely.

The question that eats away at me is somewhat different but still related to bart's: how to turn the people who pack performances of The Nutcracker into more frequent ballet-goers. Ditto for those who make an annual pilgrimage to the concert hall to hear Messiah.

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Me, I will see...

MCB's Balanchine...(not my favorite, but want to see all I can of Seay last performances before she retires)

Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami's Fedorova. (My favorite...always enjoy the complete SPF PDD, Pavlova's Snow PDD and the traditional waking up of Clara at the end.)

Ballet Etudes-(another "traditional" staging. Hoping to see Kowroski and Askegard in the SPF PDD like previous years)

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. (with Riolama Lorenzo, Principal Dancer of Pennsylvania Ballet as the SPF)

...will have to play with the performances dates and venues. Let's see.

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..... though I'll supplement them with the Royal Ballet's very different version from 2001 .....

Birmingham Royal Ballet's version by Sir Peter Wright is ABSOLUTELY THE BEST EVER!! He made the ballet for Christmas 1990 as a gift to the City of Birmingham for the city's funding and support for the company to move from London to Birmingham.

This production has only been seen twice outside Birmingham - once at the Lyceum Theatre in London and once at the Lowry in its opening season. I've seen it every year from 1990 to 2009 and have never got tired of it. It has absolutely the best transformation scene EVER. The moment when the Rats appear from the fireplace never fails to send tingles down my spine. The duet for the awakened Nutcracker and Clara is so beautiful that you do not even realise the set has changed from the giant Christmas tree to a winter wonderland until the dancers realise it themselves.

This production is available on DVD with Miyako Yoshida and Irek Mukhamedov. It would be wonderful if it was filmed with some of the current casts. Carol-Anne Miller, Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao opened the season on Friday night (27th November) with a truly sublime performance. As one of my friends said the following day. Chi was not only on the music "he was the music".

Lucky ballet fans in Houston have a couple of opportunities to see Chi Cao in their Nutcracker season as he is guesting for four performances just before Christmas.

The RB production, also by Sir Peter Wright, is some years older. I find it hard to believe that these productions have been produced by the same person. I saw the RB one in 1986 and have never wanted to see it again!

Here is a link to a review of Sir Peter Wright's two versions:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culture...Nutcracker.html

Northern Ballet Theatre have been touring Christopher Gable/Massimo Morricone's production of A Christmas Carol. This is a real festive treat with gorgeous Victorian sets and costumes, a commissioned score by Carl Davies, some beautiful choreography and the dancers singing carols. It remains very close to the Charles Dickens story. (David Nixon has also made a delightful production of the Nutcracker for NBT, which I am hoping we will be able to see again next year). NBT will also be performing David Nixon's Peter Pan in Leeds over the Christmas period. This is a fantastic production for families with younger children.

JMcN - edited to add link to review

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I wouldn't mind flying around in Santa's sleigh and seeing Cuban Classical Ballet version, the very English-style looking Nutcracker of the Royal Ballet and Balanchine's of Miami City Ballet and New York. In real life I shall see San Francisco Ballet's steadfast Nutcracker, probably a couple of times, the magic being in changing casts of dancers. Our version has a curious sort of Waltz of the Zinnias all in summer colors but nothing as wondrous as the raising of the Christmas tree of NYCB's.

Peter Wright Royal Ballet Nutcracker

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Ballet Arizona's Paola Hartley and Daniel Marshalsay are guesting with Tallahassee Ballet, and Anthony Morgan, who is a professor at FSU and who dance with Martha Graham and is a modern dance choreographer, will portray Herr Drosselmeyer. I've seen Morgan's choreography for the Vancouver company Dancers Dancing, and Hartley and Marshalsay in Phoenix. I think Floridians are in for a very big treat.

http://www.tallahassee.com/article/2009120...040301/1005/ent

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... the traditional waking up of Clara at the end. ...
I don't know how "traditional" the awakening is. According to Mel's summary of Ivan A. Vsevolozhsky's original libretto, no awakening is mentioned or even suggested ("A Grand Waltz for the entire kingdom ensues, after which the scene is transformed into illuminated fountains and a gigantic beehive is shown, with flying bees guarding the riches of the miraculous kingdom, over which Clara and her Prince reign forever"). I don't know when or where Clara first awoke, but it seems consistent with Soviet Social Realism. Personally, I like magic (or ambiguity) in some ballets. :flowers:

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You're right, Carbro, and I apologize for not being more specific. I should have referred to a "traditional ending in my own history of Nutcracker attendances and viewings...". See, Clara's awakening was the ending that I grew up with, and so I was kind of shocked when I saw the flying device for the first time. :excl:

Now, going a little deeper in my homework, I found Petipa's notes to Tchaikovsky, and this are his indications after the Sugar Plum Fairy variation.

Ninth Dance.

A Grand General Coda for everyone on the stage, including those who have already appeared in their dances.

128 bars, 3/4, very brilliant and ardent.

Tenth Dance.

Multicolored fountains. Lighted fountains, etc.

Grandiose Andante from 16 to 24 bars.

"Février 29. 1891. J'ai écrit cela; c'est très bon" .

:thumbsup:

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