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The Nutcracker in England: questions.


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10 replies to this topic

#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


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