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The Nutcracker. An "off season" thought to share


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 07:20 AM

Ever since I started visiting this board I noticed that discussions on The Nutcracker usually take place during Christmas time. When season is over, so are the threads. I've always been intrigued about this beautiful ballet, and yes...I regret the fact that it is such a neglected one, too often enclaustred in its "Christmas show", "holiday tradition" and "showcase for the children" cliche. Personally I do have TONS of questions and thoughts to ask and share about The Nut, and even if there have been many discussions before on different aspects of the work, there are spread out all over the place. Poor Nutcracker is the only Petipa/Tchaikovsky who doesn't has a Sub-Forum of its own. If there's one ballet that I wish could be reconstructed to Stepanov, it would be this one. This way we could finally see, for example, the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux restored to its former-(and well deserved)-glory, or find out about the original composition of the Russian Dance-(Three Ivans/Trepak vs. Balanchine's said to be former candy cane role)-and so on. For once, I have numerous questions on the ballet, its choreography, score and history...and sometimes I kind of feel "guilty" about asking them "off season". Go figure. :)
Anyway...I will write down some questions that I've been aimed to ask, or thoughts to share...and I will create different threads on them-(taking Alexandra's great idea on the Giselle forum :thumbsup: ). Oh...and it would be WONDERFUL to have everything under the nice, proud "Nutcracker" title in the "Ballets" section. (hint-hint :whistling: ). Would love to see if I get answers and responses.

#2 Mashinka

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 07:50 AM

You have a point about the seasonality of the work, yes it has that Christmas tree, but Giselle is also specific to one season of the year so why isn't Giselle just danced in the autumn?

#3 richard53dog

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 10:15 AM

. If there's one ballet that I wish could be reconstructed to Stepanov, it would be this one. This way we could finally see, for example, the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux restored to its former-(and well deserved)-glory, or find out about the original composition of the Russian Dance-(Three Ivans/Trepak vs. Balanchine's said to be former candy cane role)-and so on. For once, I have numerous questions on the ballet, its choreography, score and history...and sometimes I kind of feel "guilty" about asking them "off season". Go figure. :)
Anyway....



I agree, I'd love to see a recreation of the original as far as possible. It seems like all kinds of bits and pieces have been added or subtracted over the years, adults dancing Clara, Dewdrops, Snow Queens etc. All these changes are results of different versions over the year and some have their place but it would be nice to see the piece in something like it's original form.

I'd much rather see a recreation of the original than a second hand regurgatation of Balanchine, or Vainonen, or whoever else. Sort of crossing this back to the ABT thread, I'm hoping Ratmansky comes up with something that is his own rather than a rehashing of what some other 20th century choreographer has done.

I think there is a place for this, really for instance, Balanchine's version is to a large degree his own, and for clarity his name is clearly shown as the creator. Taken on those times, I love his version and there is not a whole lot of baggage associated with it.

#4 Drew

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 10:21 AM

You have a point about the seasonality of the work, yes it has that Christmas tree, but Giselle is also specific to one season of the year so why isn't Giselle just danced in the autumn?


Mashinka, I couldn't quite tell if you were kidding around or not :) . Anyway, to play straight man, the answer would presumably be because only a rather small number of today's ballet goers (or even yesterday's) celebrate the autumn harvest or crown queens of the vine...Christmas is widely celebrated and big business besides. (Nor is the harvest quite as integral to the staging of Giselle as Christmas is to the Nutcracker.)

But I guess if some company--perhaps a regional company in Napa valley--wanted to market Giselle as a seasonal ballet, then it might be worth a try. (And I am definitely kidding around.)

#5 Helene

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 10:27 AM

You have a point about the seasonality of the work, yes it has that Christmas tree, but Giselle is also specific to one season of the year so why isn't Giselle just danced in the autumn?

It would be perfect for Día de los Muertos.

#6 bart

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 10:48 AM

Personally I do have TONS of questions and thoughts to ask and share about The Nut, and even if there have been many discussions before on different aspects of the work, there are spread out all over the place. Poor Nutcracker is the only Petipa/Tchaikovsky who doesn't has a Sub-Forum of its own.

Oh ..and it would be WONDERFUL to have everything under the nice, proud "Nutcracker" title in the "Ballets" section. (hint-hint :whistling: ). Would love to see if I get answers and responses.


Cristian, your wish is our command. We now DO have a NEW SUB-FORUM devoted to "Nutcracker," and this is now the first thread at the NEW LOCATION. (The sub-forum is located under "Ballets and Chroeographers," as you suggest.)

Over the weekend I will be trolling previous threads on Nutcracker to find a few to move to this NEW SUB-FORUM -- something to bulk up the list. If anyone has any older threads that they think should be moved, please p.m. a link to me and I'll move it this weekend.

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:32 AM


Personally I do have TONS of questions and thoughts to ask and share about The Nut, and even if there have been many discussions before on different aspects of the work, there are spread out all over the place. Poor Nutcracker is the only Petipa/Tchaikovsky who doesn't has a Sub-Forum of its own.

Oh ..and it would be WONDERFUL to have everything under the nice, proud "Nutcracker" title in the "Ballets" section. (hint-hint :whistling: ). Would love to see if I get answers and responses.


Cristian, your wish is our command. We now DO have a NEW SUB-FORUM devoted to "Nutcracker," and this is now the first thread at the NEW LOCATION. (The sub-forum is located under "Ballets and Chroeographers," as you suggest.)

Over the weekend I will be trolling previous threads on Nutcracker to find a few to move to this NEW SUB-FORUM -- something to bulk up the list. If anyone has any older threads that they think should be moved, please p.m. a link to me and I'll move it this weekend.


Oh bart...I feel moved and happy for my dear Clara and the Sugar Plum and the Nut and Petipa and Tchaikovsky . They ALL deserved this, and I'm happy to have contributed for this to happen. :clapping:
Meanwhile, as I'm writing this, I have located some threads...and I will send them to you right now.

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 07:48 PM

Balanchine's version is to a large degree his own, and for clarity his name is clearly shown as the creator. Taken on those times, I love his version and there is not a whole lot of baggage associated with it.


I just found this, from the Balanchine catalogue. Every single addition and substitution is noted. Very interesting indeed.

THE NUTCRACKER

Classical Ballet in Two Acts, Four Scenes, and Prologue
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Music: By Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker, produced 1892; violin cadenza from The Sleeping Beauty added 1955). Based on the Alexandre Dumas père version of E. T. A. Hoffmann's tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816).

Choreography: By George Balanchine. CANDY CANE variation (TREPAK) and Little Prince's mime choreographed by Lev Ivanov. BATTLE BETWEEN THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

Production: Scenery by Horace Armistead, executed by Century Scenic Studios. Costumes by Karinska. Masks by Vlady. Lighting and production by Jean Rosenthal.

Premiere: February 2, 1954, New York City Ballet with students from the School of American Ballet, City Center of Music and Drama, New York. Conductor: Leon Barzin.

Cast: ACT I, SCENE 1, CHRISTMAS PARTY AT THE HOME OF DR. STAHLBAUM, NUREMBERG, CA. 1816: Dr. and Frau Stahlbaum, Frank Hobi, Irene Larsson; Their Children, Clara and Fritz, Alberta Grant, Susan Kaufman; Maid; Guests: 4 Parents, 11 Children, 2 Grandparents; Herr Drosselmeyer, Michael Arshansky; His Nephew (The Nutcracker), Paul Nickel; Toys: Harlequin and Columbine, Gloria Vauges, Kaye Sargent; Toy Soldier, Roy Tobias; SCENE 2, THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING: Mouse King, Edward Bigelow; Nutcracker; Clara; 8 Mice; 19 Child Soldiers; SCENE 3, THE WHITE FOREST AND THE SNOWFLAKE WALTZ: Nutcracker; Clara; Snowflakes, 16 women. Boys choir (40 voices) from St. Thomas Episcopal Church. ACT II, CONFITUERENBURG (THE KINGDOM OF THE SUGAR PLUM FAIRY): Sugar Plum Fairy, Maria Tallchief; Her Cavalier, Nicholas Magallanes; Little Princess, Grant; Little Prince, Nickel; Angels, 8 girls; DIVERTISSEMENTS: HOT CHOCOLATE (SPANISH DANCE): Yvonne Mounsey, Herbert Bliss, 4 couples; COFFEE (ARABIAN DANCE): Francisco Moncion, 4 children; TEA (CHINESE DANCE): George Li, 2 women; CANDY CANES (BUFFOONS): Robert Barnett, 6 girls; MARZIPAN SHEPHERDESSES (MIRLITONS): Janet Reed, 4 women; BONBONNIÈRE (MOTHER GINGER AND HER POLICHINELLES): Bigelow, 8 children; WALTZ OF THE CANDY FLOWERS: Dewdrop, Tanaquil Le Clercq; Flowers, 2 female demi-soloists; 12 women.

Note: Balanchine danced the roles of The Nutcracker/Little Prince, Mouse King, and others in productions by the Maryinsky Theater in Petrograd (later State Theater of Opera and Ballet) and was especially noted for his solo in the BUFFOONS' DANCE (TREPAK [CANDY CANE] variation). (See ROLES PERFORMED BY BALANCHINE.)
The 1954 Nutcracker was the first full-length work presented by the New York City Ballet; the overwhelming success of this production, with elaborate scenic effects, helped assure the permanence of the Company. The use of children from the School of American Ballet, recalling Balanchine's early experience at the Maryinsky, set a precedent for future New York City Ballet works. The Sleeping Beauty cadenza, interpolated into Act I by Balanchine in 1955, has the same theme as the 'tree growing' music from The Nutcracker which occurs later in Act I.

New Productions by Balanchine Companies: 1964, New York City Ballet: New scenery and lighting by Rouben Ter-Arutunian for the New York State Theater, executed by Feller Scenery Studios, tree by Decorative Plant Corporation; some new costumes by Karinska.

Film: 1993, Warner Bros., George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (adaptation).

Video/DVD: 1993, Warner Home Video, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (adaptation); 1994, Kultur, Balanchine (excerpts from Act I with Balanchine as Drosselmeyer).

Archival Video: The George Balanchine Foundation Interpreters Archive (SUGAR PLUM FAIRY variation [partial], PAS DE DEUX), 1996.

Revisions: New York City Ballet: 1955, violin cadenza from The Sleeping Beauty added to extended pantomime in Act I; 1958, for national television broadcast and the 1958 performance season, GRAND PAS DE DEUX (Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, end of Act II), replaced by PAS DE CINQ with Cavalier omitted and Sugar Plum Fairy supported in adagio by men from CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, TEA, CANDY CANES; variation for Sugar Plum Fairy moved to beginning of Act II from traditional placement at climax of GRAND PAS DE DEUX; 1959, adagio and coda of GRAND PAS DE DEUX restored with Cavalier, replacing PAS DE CINQ, but without variation for Cavalier; Sugar Plum Fairy variation retained at beginning of Act II; 1964 (for New York State Theater), more mice and children added to BATTLE scene; COFFEE (ARABIAN DANCE), formerly featuring hookah-smoking nobleman fanned by four parrots, rechoreographed as solo for a woman; 1968, introduction of mechanical device allowing Sugar Plum Fairy to glide across stage on one pointe; 1972, eight child mice added; 1979, opening section of SNOWFLAKE WALTZ revised; COFFEE (ARABIAN DANCE) substantially rechoreographed; 1983, two adult couples, a teenage couple (guests), and another maid added to PARTY SCENE, ACT I, SCENE 1, by Peter Martins, following a plan of Balanchine's.

#9 Amy Reusch

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 08:13 PM

Interesting that Trepak is attributed to Ivanov... I thought there was some evidence that it was done by Shiraeff (sp?) because the dance was so similar to his animation and because he was known for choreographing many of the character dances in Petipa ballets... I'm not turning anything up on Google so I must surely be misspelling the name...

#10 bart

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:29 AM

I don't know the non-Balanchine versions as well as the Balanchine. But, looking at the list of Balanchine's adjustments, I was struck by how many small changes were made over the yars. A number of those added kiddies, something which is logical considering the expansion of the size of SAB.

An exception: Coffee. Those 4 parrots which were eliminated: weren't they children in the early days?

Clearly, Nutcracker is a ballet that seems to encourage (or suffer) an awful lot of tinkering.

#11 richard53dog

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 05:43 AM


Balanchine's version is to a large degree his own, and for clarity his name is clearly shown as the creator. Taken on those times, I love his version and there is not a whole lot of baggage associated with it.



THE NUTCRACKER






Choreography....... Little Prince's mime choreographed by Lev Ivanov.



At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me just say again how much I enjoy this scene....and enjoy the kids in the audience's reaction to it.

Too bad it is done in such a clunky and unmusical way by Macaulay Culkin in the filmed version. Almost all the SAB boys that I've seen do this scene do a better job.


I also wonder a bit why Balanchine included it. I would have guessed beforehand that he would have omitted it as oldfashioned, as so many others have done. And he often claimed to want to distance himself from "stories" But maybe, once committed to a "story" ballet, he decided to do it as a needed requirement. And he didn't shun mime from MSND and Coppelia either.

But I also wonder, as non-sentimental as he appeared to be in most things, if the Prince's number (as well as Candy Cane) was a bit of nostalgia for him?

#12 Helene

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 07:10 AM

I don't know the non-Balanchine versions as well as the Balanchine. But, looking at the list of Balanchine's adjustments, I was struck by how many small changes were made over the yars. A number of those added kiddies, something which is logical considering the expansion of the size of SAB.

Also, participating was what hooked him on ballet and was part of ballet education: how to behave on stage, in the wings, in the dressing rooms, in rehearsal.

An exception: Coffee. Those 4 parrots which were eliminated: weren't they children in the early days?

Originally, Coffee was four kids (parrots) around Francisco Moncion smoking a hookah. That was changed in 1964, with the solo created for Gloria Govrin, then according to the Balanchine Catalog, was "substantially rechoreographed" in 1979.

The "complete" TV broadcast was in 1958; the change wasn't to make it family-friendly for TV. That would have been too early for the opening of the New York State Theater (April, 1964), but perhaps Balanchine was anticipating the move? I've never seen the Moncion version and don't know whether it was too static for the big stage.

#13 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 September 2010 - 07:40 AM

I'm a little intrigued by this two entries.

"1958, for national television broadcast and the 1958 performance season, GRAND PAS DE DEUX (Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, end of Act II), replaced by PAS DE CINQ with Cavalier omitted and Sugar Plum Fairy supported in adagio by men from CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, TEA, CANDY CANES"

"1959, adagio and coda of GRAND PAS DE DEUX restored with Cavalier, replacing PAS DE CINQ, but without variation for Cavalier"

If for the 1959 revision the entry clarifies that this time the Cavalier variation is suppressed, does that mean that the pre-Pas de Cinq incarnation DID contain the male choreography...?


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