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NYCB Goes to the Movies -- with Balanchine's Nutcracker

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#166 kfw


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Posted 23 December 2011 - 04:08 PM

The boy shortage was still manifesting itself into the early days of the '64 revision,

1964 revision? Has that been talked about here? I assume the revision was because of the move to the bigger theater.

Mel and Jack, thanks for sharing your memories of Mother Ginger.

#167 Birdsall


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Posted 26 December 2011 - 06:06 AM

I finally watched the broadcast too, and have mixed feelings. I grew up with a "based on" version of Balanchine's ballet (Alberta Ballet's in the 1980s), and as kid, we had a picture book of it, so in many ways this is the Nutcracker I remember.

i think Act I is largely superlative--even the poor filming of the Snow scene still made me think of Ivanov's fabled 62 dancers forming stars, etc. The details in the dramas with the kids go beyond any other filmed production, amazing stuff (and amazing young talents).

Act II has more problems for me, and more than I expected. I forgot that Balanchine breaks up the order of the Grand Pas. Why? I know he said "Ballet is first by default in woman" but I feel nothing is gained from having the Sugarplum Ferry dance solo, and greet Marie and the Prince without her Cavalier (be he named Whoopingcough or not). The only reasoning I can think is to build her role in Act II as the ruler of the kingdom of Sweets and give a moment of pure ballet early on--but I think it's a poor choice and I really regretted the lack of a male solo for her cavalier. If I could change one thing about Balanchine's version, that's the most thing I would change. (I would have never got into ballet as a little kid if I didn't see how stongly the men danced and a brief bit in the PDD Coda--=as well as the great candycane trepak--might not have done it).

Still I do love the production so much--it's amazing how close the set is to the original set in design and purpose, and I love hommages like the "glide across the floor in an arabesque" moment during the PDD.

I am glad you expressed dissatisfaction with placing the Sugarplum Fairy solo at the beginning and getting rid of her cavalier's solo. I totally agree, but I thought I was the only one who disliked this. Changing the order and taking out the cavalier's solo just seems jarring after seeing other versions.
The Royal Ballet version that I just watched with family for Christmas has changes too (Peter Wright). Clara and the Prince participate in the various dances in Act 2. At first I didn't like that but sort of thought it gave a continuity to the whole story. Usually, they sit in the back or off to the side and we forget they are part of the story. I thought it was actually an intriguing touch to have them take part in the national dances. Also, the Land of the Sweets set in Act 2 is shaped like a cake that the children eat in Act 1, so that gives even more continuity to the story.
Anyway, changing things up can be positive, but I have to say I have the same feelings about Balanchine's choices.

#168 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 06:43 AM

I'm with you guys on the moving around of the SPF variation and the deletion of the male variation. But I have been able to get accounts of opinions in Petersburg about the ballet when Balanchine was still a student. Seems they didn't like having to wait to see the ballerina dance, and found the little male variation rather reedy-sounding, and not at all satisfactory as a male vehicle. When I found those things out, the changes made more sense. I still find them irritating, but now I know why they were instituted!

#169 Birdsall


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Posted 26 December 2011 - 11:03 AM

I'm with you guys on the moving around of the SPF variation and the deletion of the male variation. But I have been able to get accounts of opinions in Petersburg about the ballet when Balanchine was still a student. Seems they didn't like having to wait to see the ballerina dance, and found the little male variation rather reedy-sounding, and not at all satisfactory as a male vehicle. When I found those things out, the changes made more sense. I still find them irritating, but now I know why they were instituted!

Mel, that does help me to understand and maybe accept Balanchine's decisions. Sounds like there might be a history of changing that up. Still I prefer leaving it intact, but I am glad to hear this. It makes Balanchine's decision sound less arbitrary. I wonder how Tchaikovsky would have felt about reordering the music. Just curious.

#170 Andre Yew

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 11:42 AM

I had a chance this weekend to watch the PBS broadcast as well as the 1993 DVD, and it's interesting (for me at least!) to see this company occasionally as an outsider, in contrast to many here who have grown up with it because it's always striking to me how unique this company still is today. Their combination of speed, attack, and musicality is pretty much unmatched anywhere else, and gives their dancing a unique quality. I remember being struck by the same things when I saw the Moves company recently, too. Sure, there are things you can carp about (the high shoulders, and the sometimes ungainly arm lines), but as a whole, this company is really still one of the dance treasures of the world.

On to specifics ... I am surprised no one else mentioned Hot Chocolate's Adrian Danchig-Waring who gave a weighty, core-of-the-earth quality to his role. When I first saw the movie theater broadcast, I thought, "Wow, he has great turnout!" Well he does, but what was really under that driving it was how into the ground he was, and how all his movement was initiated from the hips. It's almost like a modern take on that role. I wonder what he looks like in contemporary pieces. Anyway, for that alone, he was really unique, and I'd love to see him in other things.

Speaking of going into the ground, it was great to see ballet dancers who do dance into the floor too. I think this was really obvious in the dolls dance in Act 1, where you can see Harlequin in soft shoes pushing into the floor. Gen Horiuchi's Tea on the DVD also shows this off to great effect.

I'm not sure what else can be said about Ashley Bouder's Dewdrop that hasn't been said already. She gave a pretty phenomenal performance that really showcases what the company's about. For me, Waltz of the Flowers is really the center of this ballet.

Another thing that's kind of unique to them is spotting front (it's really clear in Bouder's role, but it's everywhere), but is there some inconsistency in this? During the 2nd half of snow (before the big harp solo figure), a column of 4 girls chaine-turn from stage left, and every other one of them was spotting front. The others were spotting side. It was alternated, so I'm not sure if that was intentional or a mistake.

The tempi between the DVD and the performance struck me as similar, that is, very fast!

#171 GretchenStar



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Posted 27 December 2011 - 04:40 PM

I'm disappointed that I missed the PBS broadcast. PBS SoCal (Los Angeles area) opted not to air it until Sunday, Dec 18th at 12pm (I got the time wrong so I missed it). They were supposed to rebroadcast it on Christmas eve at 2pm (on their 2nd channel) - their twitter feed even mentioned it - but later replaced it with a Jessica Simpson holiday special. Not that there's anything wrong with Ms. Simpson but I was looking forward to catching the Nutcracker.

I guess I shouldn't be too disappointed by PBS SoCal, considering they did show SFB's The LIttle Mermaid, but it's Christmas, for heaven's sake. Why can't they re-air The Nutcracker? :(

Not to mention, who broadcasts the Nutcracker on tv midday? Who's going to be home to watch it? It's as if PBS SoCal doesn't want anyone to watch.

#172 Quiggin


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Posted 29 December 2011 - 12:44 PM

I saw this at a large new cinema in San Francisco - built on the site of a recently demolished department store called the Emporium, which was the equivalent of New York Macys for San Franciscans. The long lively and promising line that seemed to be waiting for Nutcracker turned out to be queuing up for a Tinker, Tailor preview and there were only forty or so of us in a huge theater with its temperature cooled down for a full crowd.

I liked the First act a lot - it seemed to be filmed in a coherent way - though you never were quite sure where you were sitting or how "deep" into the play your focus of attention was penetrating.

I think one of the problems of the Second act was that its mixtures of angles and distances undercut the timing of the dancers. Each type of shot - close, medium, short - seems to suggests a different tempo, so here you have in effect several films going on at the same time. The best distance I thought (and maybe Bart would agree) was from a right front balcony, where there was enough background to give a similar figure-to-ground relation that you would get in a theater.

Adrian Danchig-Waring was excellent, as Andre Yew points out - I saw him live a few years ago and I think in a video of Agon, and he has a a similar intense wirey dramatic weight as that of Jeremy Cox. Tiler Peck was like the old days with Balanchine, at least the early nineties, maybe like Melissa Hayden in her wildness. The grand pas solo of Megan Fairchild didn't have the quick back forth change of profiles, and the little cantering throws of feet forward (I don't know the name of that ballet step) didn't come off - in part because there was too much visual information competing in the background.

There's a wonderful quiet and dim clip somewhere online of Wendy Whelan's Arabian, which as much as anything captures the magic of NYCB Nutcracker.

#173 abatt


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Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:24 AM

There were a number of complaints on this thread, including mine, about Chelsea Clinton's inability to do an interesting interview. Looks like we are not the only ones who feel that way.


#174 dirac


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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:47 PM

Hmmm. I was going to let all the Clinton comments not relevant to the quality of the broadcast pass by without comment, but tally ho. It's unclear to me how this article is relevant to to this thread, apart from earlier posts complaining that Ms. Clinton is benefiting from her status as a president's daughter, but since the matter has been raised again, I note that there are recent precedents: Jenna Bush Hager, Meghan McCain, and LIz Cheney have all landed television jobs without any obvious qualifications, and unlike other politicians' offspring Clinton has for most of her life, until the NBC gig, maintained a low profile. I have mixed views about this sort of thing, but they're not relevant here.

It would be superfluous in me to point out that Post has an obvious ax to grind........

#175 rg


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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:52 PM

hear! hear! all NYPost regulars would be anti-Clinton in spades.
talk about unreliable sources for comment on Clinton-related matters.

#176 Jayne


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Posted 07 January 2012 - 09:43 PM

I thought Chelsea wasn't great, but wasn't bad either. It's best to start these types of media jobs in smaller markets and work up, so the press thinks you're paying your dues, and you actually are paying your dues (and getting better) before appearing on the national stage.

If Chelsea started out hosting an Arts program on a local Connecticut PBS station, it would be a coup for that station, but the spotlight would allow her to grow into a TV role. I think Maria Shriver did this better, starting at the local level. Megan McCain (though I often disagree with her) is the only one out of them all to do really well.

#177 volcanohunter


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Posted 25 November 2015 - 11:26 PM

A reminder that this performance is returning to U.S. cinemas on Saturday, December 5 at 12:55 pm local time, and Thursday, December 10 at 7:00 pm local time.



locations: http://www.fathomeve...eater-locations
cast sheet: https://fathomeventw..._Cast-Sheet.pdf



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