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The Nutcracker in England: questions.


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 05:04 PM

The Nutcracker is coming back again, and so I'll make my yearly pilgrimage to see the two staging’s I always look forward to : Fedorova’s staging for BRdMC, imported from Havana by the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami and Balanchine's for MCB. Interesting noting that both versions were staged by two Russians who both got to dance it in the pre-Soviet Imperial Saint Petersburg production.
Interesting too is the fact that both versions contain elements that were part of the Petipa/Ivanov production, in Balanchine's case a recreation of the Candy Canes dance and in Fedorova's the Grand Pas de deux.
Now, as I was watching the gorgeous clip of Dowell/Collier dancing the Grand Pas from Sir Peter Wright's production for the Royal Ballet, some questions popped in my mind. Hopefully someone will shred some light on the subject.
1-What's the historical trail of the Nutcracker performances in England after the mid 30's Vic-Wells production and before the 1984 Wright's staging...? (We're talking about half of a century here)
2- Does Wright's production has a direct link with that first Sergueev staging for the Vic-Wells starring Markova...?
3-Was the Grand Pas preserved somehow in pre-Wright productions..? (It always amazes me the fact that the choreography came to Alonso via two very different sources, by Markova and Sergueev from England on one side and by Fedorova from Russia on the other, and according to her they were-(are)-identical.
4-Finally...was karsavina somewhat involved in the future staging of the ballet...? I'm thinking that even if she died six years before this production was created, maybe she had previously advised Wright on elements of the original choreography, just as she did with Ashton's "Fille"...? (I think I remember having read somewhere that Karsavina held some conversations about it with Wright but I'm not sure of the source of my scarce recollections...)

I'm sure Leonid, atm711 and Mel can get me some of the answers, so thanks in advance! Posted Image

#2 CM

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 05:24 PM

According to the notes to the " Royal Ballet Gala" Ansermet CD:

First performance on 30 January 1934 with Markova "with Lydia Lopokova "constantly present to translate, interpret and demonstrate" and with the veteran regisseur Nicolai Sergueff, as producer.

For Christmas 1936 the Nutcracker was given new sets and costumes designed by Mtislav Doubujinsky,one of Diaghilev's early collaborators.

When the Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet toured America in 1951-2, the Nutcracker was restaged by Frederic Ashton. Cecil Beaton designed new sets and costumes. Elaine Fifield and David Blair were the principal dancers

(The original recording (and these notes) was dated 1959, current edition is 2008

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 10:25 PM

So I guess that by the time Ashton got his hand in the choreography in '51 he probably left the Grand Pas as it had been danced for 17 years before him...



...and then ditto with Wright when he got it 33 years after Ashton...



...AND also ditto with Magaly Suarez for the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami only 71 years after Fedorova staged it...!! Posted Image



#4 Jane Simpson

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 05:02 AM

Ashton's 1951 Nutcracker consisted only of the Snow Scene and the Kingdom of Sweets, and according to David Vaughan's book, 'unlike some other choreographers, Ashton realised that it is difficult to improve on the original choreography for the grand pas de deux, and left it as it was'. However the Sergeyev production did not include a solo for the Prince, so Ashton made a new one for David Blair. Peter Wright actually danced in this production - he was in the original cast of the Arabian dance.

The London RB danced Act 3 of the Sergeyev production up till 1944 but once they moved into Covent Garden it was dropped and there was no Nutcracker in the repertory until they staged Nureyev's production in 1968.

#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 07:04 AM

Edited: Double post

#6 rg

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 07:06 AM

not sure if this publicity photo from a tour of the Sadler's Wells Ballet to the States was posted before, but for now, here's a full-stage grouping from the second act of Ashton's staging of NUTCRACKER.
(the print is not well captioned, but it may indicate a '52 tour, and some British ballet colleagues have suggested that Sugarplum may be Elaine Fifield.)

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#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 07:17 AM

not sure if this publicity photo from a tour of the Sadler's Wells Ballet to the States was posted before, but for now, here's a full-stage grouping from the second act of Ashton's staging of NUTCRACKER.
(the print is not well captioned, but it may indicate a '52 tour, and some British ballet colleagues have suggested that Sugarplum may be Elaine Fifield.)


What a great pic, rg..! (Thanks, as usual, for those wonderful treats of yours..). I see the Spanish Dance on the left-(from audience perspective)-, the Arabian on the right, two marzipans on each side of the stage and I would say the two couples on each side of the Sugar Plum/Coqueluche are the Chinese...? Then, the rest four couples in the back are supposed to be the Russian Dance, right...?

The London RB danced Act 3 of the Sergeyev production up till 1944


Oh, how interesting, so the Vic-Wells production had THREE acts instead of two..? How come...? Did Sergueev devoted a whole act to the Snow Scene...? If so, then more music and choreography must have been added to it...do you know if England had also its share of a new Snow Queen PDD...?

#8 atm711

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 07:42 AM

I would very much like to see the Cuban Classical Ballet's production of Nutcracker---just to see how close it is to the BRdMC version. Their PDD is as I remember it from the BRdMC. and also from Ballet Theatre. 'Pas De Deux: The Art of Partnering; by Anton Dolin' details the choreography for the PDD. Interestingly, Dolin does not cite Sergeyev or Fedorova---he says Choreo. by Ivanov, reconstructed by Anton DolinPosted Image

#9 Jane Simpson

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:01 AM

Cristian, from a captioned photo of a near-identical moment, the two men on either side of the leading couple are indeed the Chinese (Tea from China) and the four men in black hats are 'Nougat from Russia'; the 8 women with the Russians are from the Valse des Fleurs (Crystallized flowers) - the one with the Chinese man on the right is probably Maryon Lane, who led the waltz, and I'd guess that the corresponding one on the left is the one who led the 'Sugar Sticks', probably Patricia Miller, with the other four being the ones standing at the front.

They certainly listed the 1934 production as having 3 acts but I'd guess it was actually the 2 acts, 3 scenes as usual. The Ashton version opened with a pas de deux for the Snow King and Queen (Robert Lunnon and Svetlana Beriosova in the first cast) - the review I'm reading says nothing about the choreography but adds 'Ashton has interpolated a variation for Beriosova to some music I cannot remember hearing in this ballet before' - which seems to imply that the rest of it was already in existence.

#10 Hamorah

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 09:03 AM

I don't ever remember going to see Nutcracker at the Royal Ballet when I was young (1950's early 1960's) . What I do remember was going every year to see the London Festival Ballet's (now ENB) version. Clara was always danced by a talented little girl in their version (how jealous I was of those lucky girls!) and there were loads of children in it as party goers and mice. It was a very traditional version with the Christmas tree growing and growing until it turned into a giant fir tree in the land of snow. This is from the ENB's website - I hope I'm allowed to copy it here.

" Above all the history of English National Ballet is entwined with that of The Nutcracker. Markova and Dolin loved performing the pas de deux in their gala programmes and from the Company's first performance at Southsea on 14 August 1950, Act II, 'The Kingdom of Sweets' was part of the repertoire. A complete production was mounted for the first season at the Stoll Theatre in London and a succession of productions by Lichine, Carter, Hynd, Schaufuss, Stevenson and Deane have made the Company's Christmas season unimaginable without this well-loved work which was remarkably little known 50 years ago"

I loved the version that was performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet some years ago. It was also Peter Wright's choreography, but it was different from the RB's current version that I have on DVD. Looking it up I discovered that the RB are still basically doing (with adjustments) the version Wright did for them in 1984, whilst the BRB version was choreographed by Wright in 1990. Nureyev's 1968 version for the Royal Ballet was very different from the other versions around in England at the time. There is an interview with Ninette de Valois as part of a Youtube clip of the Grand Pas de Deux. In it she says that she believes it was based on the Kirov version. It probably was. One unusual element in Nureyev's version was that Merle Park (aged 31) danced both Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy and I believe that Nureyev danced both the Prince and Drosselmeyer!!!!!!!

#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 09:48 AM

I would very much like to see the Cuban Classical Ballet's production of Nutcracker---just to see how close it is to the BRdMC version. Their PDD is as I remember it from the BRdMC. and also from Ballet Theatre.

I

t is indeed, atm711. Alonso, in her fierce effort not to change a bit of what she imported, even left the truncated passage of music in the Adagio, which omits some bars right before the back bend lifts. I always wondered the reasons of the omission until I was told that what we were hearing was the arrangement done for the BRdMC staging. The truncated fragment starts at 2:44 in this clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EGevLxa5QE&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PLEFF9593251E10227

#12 Ashton Fan

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Posted 07 December 2015 - 03:25 PM

I am not sure that there was much of a tradition of the Nutcracker at Covent Garden before Peter Wright's 1984 production. There do not seem to been any performances of it at the Royal Opera House until  Nureyev's 1968 production and that production was not performed only at Christmas. In fact Christmas Past  at Covent Garden seems considerably more interesting than Christmas Present

 

 

Before the Nureyev production the consensus seemed to be that  while the score is probably the greatest of Tchaikovsky's ballet scores the choreography was not of comparable quality.Nureyev's production  was clearly based on  the version that he knew from his time at the Kirov.The link between the two acts,at least by the time that I  first saw it, was created by Clara's relatives  appearing in the divertisements in the second act. A bad case if too much party and too much excitement. It was a production that appealed to adults and children although some thought it rather dark. Several seasons elapsed between the final performance of that production and the first performance of Peter Wright's production. Although it is  now a staple of the repertory I think that quite a few people were disappointed by it when they first saw it. I know that several people were amused by  a report that de Valois when asked what she thought of the new production had said words to the effect that she  could see no reason to replace the Nureyev production because it was  excellent and the best she knew of.

 

Sir Peter's production lovingly tended by him has now acquired the patina of age and authenticity and no doubt there will be an outcry when it is finally pensioned off.The changes to the choreography which Sir Peter has made, since 1984, enable Clara and Hans Peter to play an active part in both acts. Clara is now played by a company member rather than by a student from the school.

 

Pre 1968 the company seemed to rub along quite well at Christmas with Cinderella and ballets other than Nutcracker.. As to what the 1930's productions looked like the ICA Classics DVD of Fonteyn and Somes dancing Tchaikovsky Ballet Masterpieces may provide a clue..



#13 Mashinka

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Posted 07 December 2015 - 04:17 PM

That DVD actually credits Peter Wright with the choreography (after Petipa), surely not in 1958?

 

It was Festival Ballet (now ENB) that had the long uninterrupted tradition of dancing Nutcracker in Britain, not the Royal Ballet. 



#14 Ashton Fan

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Posted 08 December 2015 - 04:39 AM

I know that Peter Wright is credited with the choreography for the 1958 film. Perhaps his autobiography will cast some light on what is his and what derives from Sergeyev's pre war productions.It is quite possible that Peter Wright's choreographic input was limited to rearranging things so that the dancers were in the right position for the cameras,which were far from mobile then, rather than altering the steps that were danced.I think that is probably the reason why de Valois gets a credit for the Royal Ballet's  Coppelia which had been set for the Sadler's Well's stage.

 

I recognise that Markova and Dolin introduced the Christmas Nutcracker tradition to London. I have always thought that it was a mistake to make it such a regular feature at Covent Garden, where it now graces the stage four years out of five.I recognise that a revival was inevitable this year because of Sir Peter Wright's ninetieth birthday. A little more variety at Christmas would do us all a lot of good. Coppelia has not been seen at Covent Garden for some years and then there is Cinderella.

 

Mashinka do you know whether Mona Ingoldsby ever staged the Nutcracker? It seems to me that  someone needs to write an inclusive history of ballet in Britain in the twentieth century by which I mean one that is not just a history of the Royal Ballet.I know that there is a general lack.of interest in ballet history but such a book is needed. It would be beneficial to us all to put de Valois and her company into context by showing what other people were doing at the time. It would need to discuss the work of people like Ingoldsby and Darrell,and of companies like Ballet Rambert as a classical company and Western Theatre Ballet which became Scottish Ballet. There might be difficulty in finding a publisher but that does not mean that such a book is not needed.



#15 Mashinka

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 07:45 AM

Do you mean Mona Inglesby?  Her company was only active in the 1940's and I believe she choreographed new works for it.  They certainly danced classics, I can find mention of SL & SB, not sure about Nutcracker though.  Nikolai Sergeyev worked with her so presumably classic productions were his.

 

I agree with the need for a history of British Ballet, though not sure if the interest exists in the UK.  In the main I find it is American ballet lovers that are interested in the history of the art in general.  Perhaps an approach to an American publisher would be easier.

 

By the way, I always thought Nureyev's production was one for the adults whereas others aim for the younger audience.




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