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Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center


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#16 sphillips

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 08:09 PM

I'm going to look for your review. Thanks for the heads up :) In the lobby during intermission, it seemed like there was a 50/50 split of people who either loved or hated this version of Nutcracker. You know what side I'm on :) I usually try to get the Saturday night performances, as I've found the company is more rehearsed and relaxed. I've had a number of ABT dancers kind enough to "friend" me on Facebook, and yes, they got here Wednesday afternoon. I have a question, and don't know if I'm breaking any board rules, so please tell me if I am, because like I said, I'm really shy about posting on here. From what I remember that has been posted publicly, Herman Cornejo has been injured a lot this past year. There were a few times during the Grande Pas De Deux, that I was worried he wasn't going to be able to catch Ms. Reyes and they improvised the way that great partners do. I was wondering if it was the change in choreography, or improvisation, like I just said. Nonetheless, I loved the performance, but I am biased, because ABT is my favorite company. And again, just my opinion :)

#17 balletmor

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 11:46 AM

I like the classics to stay "true" to original choreography just like most ballet lovers, but i make an exception when it comes
to "The Nutcracker", as long as they do not veer to far away. Most of us "Dance parents" have sat through at least 5,500 Nutcrackers in our "Dance Parent Careers", so a little bee sting here, a little fierce snow storm there is welcomed. I love Alex Ratmansky's delightful Russian Humor. I think he is a Genius and I became a huge fan a few years back while watching his RDB version in Copenhagen, and of course this past summer after experiencingt three nights of The Bright Stream!(Cant wait to see it again). I feel his ABT version is beautiful, colorful, and magical. The very fact that he has based it on the Mariinsky-Chemyakin &Simonov version, (as " Foreign Corresponden"t has graciously reminded us) to me is also very special. I wouldn't expect it to be an exact replica, but instead to have a brilliant "Ratmansky" twist to it!. As far as the set goes, I for one liked the simplicity so one could enjoy the Vibrant whimsical costumes a little better, but i know that may be just My taste! Thanks to all for the reviews from The Kennedy Center for those of us who couldn't make it! Hope to see it at BAM.

#18 Birdsall

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 12:10 PM

Bottom Line: This is the 'Wal-mart Edition' of the Mariinsky's luxurious Chemyakin Nutcracker. I applauded for the dancers...and for Tchaikovsky.


Natalia, I asked this question under the topic "Nutcracker choreographies" but since you brought up the Chemyakin Nutcracker, I wanted to ask you if you knew what the Mother Gigogne and children scene means in the Chemyakin. To me it is as if grown men come out from under her skirts and start beating up on little babies they carry in their arms. What in the world does that mean? Overall, I found the production fascinating and different and loved the green snake during the Arabian coffee dance, but the beating up on babies and then tossing them was a bit much. Maybe you understand it, and I hope you could explain what that meant. Does the ABT Nutcracker you describe do this too?

#19 Natalia

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 12:14 PM

.... The very fact that he has based it on the Mariinsky-Chemyakin &Simonov version, (as " Foreign Corresponden"t has graciously reminded us) to me is also very special. ....


'Foreign Correspondent' actually has a name. My name is Natalia. (wink)

Balletmor, you and the other proud parents may not be aware that Ratmansky was, in fact, the initial choreographer for the Mariinsky-Chemyakin version in 2000 but was released of his duties by Mariinsky management, due to creative conflict of ideas with the designer (as Ratmansky himself has cited in interviews). I suspect that a lot of the ideas retained by the final choreographer, Kirill Simonov, were generated by Ratmansky, in conjunction with, of course, the designer Chemyakin. [Actually, I had assumed that ALL ideas in 2000 Mariinsky version were Chemyakin's and was quite surprised to see many of them in the new ABT version. I had incorrectly assumed that Ratmansky had been unable to get a single idea through to the 'diva designer'!]

In the final Chemyakin-Simonov ballet, three female bees dance the Mirlitons pas ("flutes"). I don't like bees there either but at least it was not as important a segment as the Waltz of the Flowers. At the Mariinsky, BOTH the traditional Vainonen & newer Chemyakin versions play the Waltz of the Flowers totally 'straight' -- in other words, seriously, with joyous reverence. Both versions also employ both male & female dancers. I have no problem with men in the waltz...just not silly 'idiots' waving their hands and mocking classisism, in the midst of a sublime piece of music. (No offense to the fine quartet of male dancers. They dance what they are given.)

Bart, at this moment, I honestly don't recall what Mother Ginger does in the Mariinsky-Chemyakin version or even if there is an MG! By 'Wal-mart Edition' I am referring to the degree of richness and details in the designs, including the backdrops, which are exceedingly 'luxe' in Chemyakin but super-simple in ABT. I'm a Tsarist snob & love 'ultra-luxe' in my decors....a-la recent Petipa-Era reconstructions at La Scala (Raymonda), POB (Paquita), Bolshoi (Coppelia, Corsaire, Pharaoh's Daughter), Mariinsky (Bayadere, Sleeping B, Ondine, Flora's Awakening) and so on. I don't care for 'linear simplicity' as in so many full-length Ratmansky ballets, commencing with the (to me) horrendously cheap-looking Cinderella for the Mariinsky in 2001, a.k.a. 'the Milkman Danceth." But Ratmansky's original Bright Stream for the Bolshoi -- not the one for ABT -- looked gorgeously deluxe.

Long live the Tsar! Posted Image

#20 Birdsall

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 12:24 PM

Natalia, I like luxurious sets too. I am open to minimal sets or avant garde ones too, if done well, but luxurious is almost always eye pleasing.

In the Chemyakin production Mother Ginger is like a flat cardboard cut out (nicer than cardboard, but I don't know how to describe it otherwise). She's not a real person. Then, all these men come out from under her skirts holding dolls that I assumed were babies, and they beat up on the babies. It was the most confusing moment in the entire production, and I did not "get" it at all. I was hoping someone could tell me what it meant.

#21 Natalia

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 12:44 PM

Bart, I still can't picture the MG...but I think I remember what you mean. Aren't the 'beaters' white-garbed commedia dell'arte figures, polichinellos? Italian Commedia dell'Arte (despite the 'comedy' in the name) could actually be quite brutal - slapstick brutality. Just as the Three Stooges of AmericanTV (I'm dating myself!) punched and slapped one another, in the Commedia dell'Arte manner. I took the polichinellos episode of Chemyakin to be a hearkening to Commedia dell'Arte. The polichinellos were trying to get their baby brothers to shut up & stop crying. The 'kids' in the Chemyakin Act I party scene were also quite nasty, except for Masha.

Eureka! I just realize that that's another connection that Ratmansky has made with the Chemyakin-Simonov version (which was originally his own first version): 'spoiled-brat kids' who stomp their feet and are quick to fight (see Act I party children of ABT...not at all the demure little darlings of traditional versions, with the exception of Clara/Masha).

p.s. I'm open to minimal sets...in new ballets. My favorite Ratmansky ballet -- Bizet Variations for the Georgian Ballet -- is danced against a plain backdrop. I love Ratmansky pdds and one-act works, in general.

#22 balletmor

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:01 PM

]

'Foreign Correspondent' actually has a name. My name is Natalia. (wink)

OM Goodness! I do not know why I only saw "Foreign Correspondent" and not your name! I must be getting old! YOu are one of my favorite contributors since I started 'lurking' 6 years or so ago! LOL
I do not usually comment for obvious reasons, but read every day. I had a laugh when I originally posted about my son (THE DAMN BEE haha) because first I m reading about how ridiculous his part was then I read how proud the YOung prince's Mom was and knowing how she feels, i thought it would be funny to remind the readers that no matter what part they are given, we still are proud! Im just as proud as when he is a guest Prince somewhere because I know how hard these dancers work and yes sometimes you have to be a bee, but thats ok. I'd rather he be a bee with ABT than a Prince here in town! (Though i'd stiil be proud of course)

Again when I thought your name was "Foreign Correspondent" and saw how many posts you had, i thought, "Why havent I ever heard of her?" Keep up the excellent work, some of us really depend on your eyes for the reviews and your opinions as we sometimes aren't as fortunate to be there in person!
Long Live our "Foreign Correspondent"

#23 Natalia

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:07 PM

Thanks, balletmor. I really meant the praise about the pro dancers AND the children! I wouldn't point-out the positives and negatives of a production if I didn't feel passionate about them.

#24 balletmor

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 01:41 PM

Thanks, balletmor. I really meant the praise about the pro dancers AND the children! I wouldn't point-out the positives and negatives of a production if I didn't feel passionate about them.


.......And that's why Im a Natalia fan! ;-)

#25 Natalia

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 02:31 PM

p.s. about the performance that I attended (Kennedy Center Sunday night):

I don't know how I failed to mention my utter admiration for the lovely blonde corps lady who gallantly coped with a 'Wardrobe Malfunction' during the Waltz of the Flowers. About 3 minutes into the number, the white lower ruffle of her petalled skirt ripped-off about three-quarters of the way around the hem! While other ladies' skirts ended a couple of inches below the knees, this flower's hem dragged just about the floor. It's a miracle that she did not fall! Near the end, when the four 'darn bees' lift each flower one by one, our lady in distress gave us the widest smile imaginable -- there was no place to hide! -- and danced gloriously to the end. A perfect example of the old motto: "The show WILL go on!"

#26 Birdsall

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 06:26 PM

Bart, I still can't picture the MG...but I think I remember what you mean. Aren't the 'beaters' white-garbed commedia dell'arte figures, polichinellos? Italian Commedia dell'Arte (despite the 'comedy' in the name) could actually be quite brutal - slapstick brutality. Just as the Three Stooges of AmericanTV (I'm dating myself!) punched and slapped one another, in the Commedia dell'Arte manner. I took the polichinellos episode of Chemyakin to be a hearkening to Commedia dell'Arte. The polichinellos were trying to get their baby brothers to shut up & stop crying. The 'kids' in the Chemyakin Act I party scene were also quite nasty, except for Masha.

Eureka! I just realize that that's another connection that Ratmansky has made with the Chemyakin-Simonov version (which was originally his own first version): 'spoiled-brat kids' who stomp their feet and are quick to fight (see Act I party children of ABT...not at all the demure little darlings of traditional versions, with the exception of Clara/Masha).

p.s. I'm open to minimal sets...in new ballets. My favorite Ratmansky ballet -- Bizet Variations for the Georgian Ballet -- is danced against a plain backdrop. I love Ratmansky pdds and one-act works, in general.


Oh, I thought the men in white were butchers or bakers or something. Didn't think of them as Pulcinellos, but maybe they were. So maybe you all are right that it is a Commedia dell'Arte derived scene. I wrote in the other thread that I didn't think it looked like it. I will have to go back and re-watch it.

#27 Birdsall

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Posted 13 December 2011 - 06:32 PM

p.s. about the performance that I attended (Kennedy Center Sunday night):

I don't know how I failed to mention my utter admiration for the lovely blonde corps lady who gallantly coped with a 'Wardrobe Malfunction' during the Waltz of the Flowers. About 3 minutes into the number, the white lower ruffle of her petalled skirt ripped-off about three-quarters of the way around the hem! While other ladies' skirts ended a couple of inches below the knees, this flower's hem dragged just about the floor. It's a miracle that she did not fall! Near the end, when the four 'darn bees' lift each flower one by one, our lady in distress gave us the widest smile imaginable -- there was no place to hide! -- and danced gloriously to the end. A perfect example of the old motto: "The show WILL go on!"



Your comments about the wardrobe malfunction at ABT reminded me of something tonight. I just came home from the NYCB Nutcracker transmission into movie theaters and I noticed that one of the snowflakes dropped her fluffy snowball hand thing. I was worried one of the dancers would slip on it or something so it was hard to watch the dancing for the remainder of the snow blizzard scene. Maybe it is soft and would not have messed anyone up if someone had stepped on it but you never know. I was worried for them. I kept thinking if one of the snow flakes stepped on it just right it might cause the dancer to slide. Luckily, that didn't happen.

#28 Natalia

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 05:30 AM

After going through the names of dancers listed as 'Flowers' in my playbill AND comparing with thumbnail photos in a 2011 MET season booklet, I believe that the heroic young lady who so gallantly coped with the stray ruffle was Lauren Post. Three cheers to Lauren!

[size=2]If I were 'Haglund,' I'd give Lauren a 'Pump-Bump' Award[/size]. Posted Image

#29 Amy Reusch

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 01:11 PM

I lovd the Waltz of the Flowers when I saw it last year, and loved the Bees. I know others wanted something more traditional but I loved how the Bees made me hear the music as I had never heard it before.... And considering my age and how much we get bombarded with Nutcracker, that's really saying something...


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