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Nutcracker 2009


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#31 bart

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 06:16 PM

Wow! that is one impressive resume. There can't be many ballet dancers (or skaters for that matter) who, after graduating from an Ivy League University magna cum laude, have had serious international careers in both ballet and skating.

#32 sandik

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 07:16 PM

Thanks to a lead from a poster on the Figure Skating Universe website on the Katherine Healy thread, according to the site of the Dance Theatre Workshop, Healy is on the ballet faculty.


Thanks so much for the link. It is indeed a very impressive resume.

You were a bit hasty when you posted, though -- it's the American Theater Dance Workshop, which is different that DTW. Too many candy canes?

#33 Helene

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 10:17 PM

You were a bit hasty when you posted, though -- it's the American Theater Dance Workshop, which is different that DTW. Too many candy canes?

:tiphat:

ETA: I fixed it so that I wouldn't mislead anyone else.

#34 Marga

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 12:01 AM

And to further clarify, or add info at least, the American Theater Dance Workshop (which is always a cumbersome mouthful for me) is what became of the Eglevsky Ballet School. The Eglevsky Ballet, essentially a pickup company now, occupies the same space. Katherine is married to Peter Burrows (who was her coach upon her return to skating) and also coaches and choreographs at the Peter Burrows Skating School in addition to teaching ballet at the Herricks Community Center.

#35 volcanohunter

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 11:40 AM

This raises the question: are there possibly [size=3]TOO MANY Nutcrackers[/size] around, in the USA at least.

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

Tomorrow, Friday, December 11, Karen Kain and Sarah Kaufman are set to debate the issue on CBC Radio's Q. The program airs at 10:00 a.m. & 10:00 p.m. local time on CBC Radio One. This being Canada, you have your choice of 5 (and a half) time zones to listen live online, or you'll be able to download the podcast after the program on the Q page.

Dec 11: Terry Gilliam on the fight to save The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in the wake of Heath Ledger's death, and how his fighting spirit has fueled his imagination. National Ballet artistic director KAREN KAIN will debate SARAH KAUFMAN, the chief dance critic at The Washington Post, who believes that ballet's seasonal reliance on The Nutcracker is bad for dance. Plus, special Friday Live guests The Constantines, and Elvira Kurt's Cultural Hall of Shame.

http://www.cbc.ca/q/

I have never tried listening to the CBC online from outside the country, but I'm hoping it can be done.

My thanks to a non-dancing friend for the heads up.

#36 Jack Reed

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Posted 10 December 2009 - 01:08 PM

I've listened to the CBC's current-events program "As It Happens" that way here in Chicago. No problem, volcanohunter.

As for the Katherine Healy clip, I liked it better with the sound weak; what she does only sometimes relates to what Tchaikovsky is giving forth, it seemed to me, although there were some wonderful moments of convergence. Very elegant, though, thanks, Helene.

But as for local Nutcracker plans, mine consist of seeing Ballet Chicago Studio Company's annual offering, which I've said a little more about here:

http://ballettalk.in...mp;#entry260265

I'm going to both evening performances in the Athenaeum, to compare casts in the "Snow" pas de deux. For me, the production combines the virtues of musicality and locality.

#37 sandik

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 10:08 AM

This raises the question: are there possibly [size=3]TOO MANY Nutcrackers[/size] around, in the USA at least.

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

Tomorrow, Friday, December 11, Karen Kain and Sarah Kaufman are set to debate the issue on CBC Radio's Q. The program airs at 10:00 a.m. & 10:00 p.m. local time on CBC Radio One. This being Canada, you have your choice of 5 (and a half) time zones to listen live online, or you'll be able to download the podcast after the program on the Q page.

Dec 11: Terry Gilliam on the fight to save The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in the wake of Heath Ledger's death, and how his fighting spirit has fueled his imagination. National Ballet artistic director KAREN KAIN will debate SARAH KAUFMAN, the chief dance critic at The Washington Post, who believes that ballet's seasonal reliance on The Nutcracker is bad for dance. Plus, special Friday Live guests The Constantines, and Elvira Kurt's Cultural Hall of Shame.

http://www.cbc.ca/q/

Please report back -- I'll try to listen to a podcast, but haven't had a lot of luck with that part of the technology yet.

I have never tried listening to the CBC online from outside the country, but I'm hoping it can be done.

My thanks to a non-dancing friend for the heads up.



#38 volcanohunter

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Posted 11 December 2009 - 11:17 AM

Please report back -- I'll try to listen to a podcast, but haven't had a lot of luck with that part of the technology yet.

Actually, since the posted podcasts are about an hour long, there's a good chance that this one will be dedicated to the Terry Gilliam interview rather than the Kain-Kaufman debate, which took up about 20 minutes of the program's second hour.

Kain is, perhaps, not the most persuasive advocate for The Nutcracker. Naturally she used every opportunity to plug her own company's production. But back in her dancing days I remember her appearing in the Footnotes series produced by Frank Augustyn, and she didn't exactly seem enthusiastic about the ballet. No doubt many dancers experience Nutcracker fatigue. (In the same series Kain's former boss Celia Franca accused any dancer who doesn't like performing The Nutcracker of having a tin ear.) So Kain's argument basically boiled down to Sarah's right, but we can't survive without the three million The Nutcracker brings in, and, by the way, our production rocks.

Kaufman's arguments are also familiar. The Nutcracker has become synonymous with ballet and has ossified ballet's image. (I thought Balanchine had done that.) Curiously, she also objects to all the acting and "naturalistic interaction" and to the fact that there's relatively little pure dancing. (So much for reclaiming ballet's "humanity.") It kills intitiative and risk-taking. She pointed out that The Nutcracker has been performed annually in the U.S. for 65 years. If it were really that great, ballet would be the biggest thing there is by now. But ballet isn't the biggest thing in the universe, therefore The Nutcracker isn't what it's cracked up to be.

She took particular issue with ABT's decision to mount a new production. Why spend Ratmansky's talent, which she speaks of highly, and all that money on a Nutcracker? Why not try something else? I dunno. Maybe because ABT's Pied Piper didn't work out quite as well as hoped?

#39 bart

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 03:19 PM

From Miami City Ballet's blog: The preparations for their first Nutcracker performances of the season, at Naples (Florida, not Italy :cool: )

Principal Patricia Delgado is the charming reporter and (I think) camera person. It's fun, and brings back memories of backstage at another company's Nutcracker. The approach quite informal, but Delgado actually covers quite a lot of the process leading up a a performance.

http://www.miamicity...tricia-delgado/

Part 2 has glimpses of the dress rehearsal, getting ready for the first performance, and glimpses of the performance itself, shot from the wings. (Naples provides its own live orchestra.)

http://www.miamicity...tricia-delgado/

A suggestion for the future: we can't actually hear what people are saying in response to Patricia's questions and comments. Some interesting stuff was being lost. This should be fairly easy to remedy next time.

#40 CM

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Posted 18 December 2009 - 04:05 AM

Wales Online on the Russian State Ballet of Siberia's Christmas season in Cardiff, with discussion of why the Nutcracker (and Sleeping Beauty) attracts a wide audience

http://www.walesonli...nterstitialskip

#41 kitcat

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Posted 18 December 2009 - 07:05 AM

The New York Times has a piece on The Nutcracker by Alastair Macaulay and mentions Kaufman's article from the Washington Post.

This article actually ends up defending The Nutcracker! Here's a bit:

But let’s not castigate “The Nutcracker” just because it is the cash cow of American ballet. And let’s not make the mistake of assuming the tweeness of bad “Nutcracker” productions means that the ballet is itself twee.

Just listen to the ballet’s overture. In good productions the view of childhood that starts here, in the miniature orchestration and quick pulse of Tchaikovsky’s introduction, is enchantingly serious. Gradually the music will build in scale until you reach the colossal, slow, full-orchestral grandeur of the Sugarplum adagio in Act II: no ballet score has a greater span, and this shows how passionately Tchaikovsky was depicting the inner life of a child.

There are, by contrast, a number of full-length ballets that take up adult subject matter only to treat it frivolously. (“Le Corsaire” and “Don Quixote,” both musically cheap, are among the most traditional examples. Stanton Welch’s 2009 ballet about Marie Antoinette, “Marie,” is the most recent one I’ve seen.) Much about ballet is bad and is worth trashing; much about it is artistically tawdry and hidebound in bad tradition; and most of its current choreographers are at best poor.

“The Nutcracker,” however, is a musical masterpiece and, in some stagings, a theatrical masterpiece too. Ballet is larger, not smaller, because of it.


http://www.nytimes.c...acker.html?_r=1

#42 Jayne

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 10:57 PM

I saw PNB's Nutcracker this evening. It was the final performance of the rep, which is traditionally the "nutty" nutcracker, filled with practical jokes from the orchestra and the dancers. I first heard of the jokes last year in the Seattle Times, and on a whim, decided to get a ticket at the door after work today. It did not disappoint!

The parents staged a funny domino fall at the end of their dance, some of the fathers wore kippuhs (sequined), the orchestra threw in lines from other classical pieces and mashed up movie themes with the Nutcracker (my favorite was the Sugar Plum fairy dance with underlying souzaphone 007 James Bond theme). The snowflakes threw snow at each other instead of falling from the skies, whilst wearing colorful mittens and knitted caps. They all kept the steps, but managed to toss snowballs nevertheless.

Later, when pantomiming the sword fight, the Cavelier threw in some fisticuffs and boxer training moves. The mice had pillow fights, the singers in the snowflake scene made up lyrics and sang them in Staten Island accented English, and the orchestral suggestions included Wizard of Oz, Die Valkyrie, an assortment of holiday music, Beethovan's 5th, Jaws, Star Wars, and many more...

The best scene was when the Cavelier offered Clara Doritos to munch, later she felt sick and he offered her a brown bag (which she used!), all while riding on a boat in the start of the 3rd act.

The Walz of the flowers included the corps wearing cheezy plastic leis, and waving at each other from the stage corners before they came on to perform.

I could go on and on, but it was really a fun time. I've seen the PNB production at least 15 times over the years, and this was so refreshing. About 10 years ago I worked for a promotional products company in Seattle that produced printed t-shirts for the merchandise store. One year the dancers requested their own shirts with the Nutcracker logo altered to read "The Buttcracker". I imagine if I had to listen the same music over and over in practice, and then perform in 45+ productions over a 30 day period, I'd need some humor to get through the season too!

do all companies pull these practical jokes during their final performance?

#43 Helene

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Posted 30 December 2009 - 11:26 PM

I think I've read descriptions that sound like NYCB has kept up its New Year's Eve performance tradition of being creative.

Thank you for reporting on PNB, Jayne -- the performance sounds delightful!

#44 sandik

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Posted 01 January 2010 - 09:55 PM

the Sugar Plum fairy dance with underlying souzaphone 007 James Bond theme


Oh, this must have been great fun!

I imagine if I had to listen the same music over and over in practice, and then perform in 45+ productions over a 30 day period, I'd need some humor to get through the season too!


I know several people have said it's repeating the score that makes it particularly difficult -- some have gone so far as to rehearse to something else (similar tempo and structure, but a different tune!)

#45 kitcat

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 11:59 AM

I have never been to see a Nutty Nutcracker and I must find one. They sound like great fun!

Also, having just worked at the Nutcracker Boutique for, I believe, thirteen shows for Festival Ballet Theatre's production of the Nutcracker, I have to believe that the Nutcracker tradition must be the foundation for the entire ballet industry. Seeing all the glowing little girls coming out of the theater, dancing around, purchasing an item at the boutique, and dreaming of becoming a ballerina really must be the entry for many of these kids to start their first ballet classes. I think the importance of the Nutcracker should not be underestimated! It must be of great value to the industry.

In addition, many of these families come back year after year and add to their nutcracker collection! It sounds like a really wonderful, and festive tradition. This, coming from someone who never saw the Nutcracker as a child. I'm glad to be a part of it...the making of wonderful cherished memories!


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