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Mariinsky Nutcracker

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I am visiting my parents in Jupiter, FL and just saw that a local movie theater will show the Mariinsky's Nutcracker today at 2 pm and 7:30 pm. I found it listed as a Fandango event and appears to be the same as the upcoming DVD release that Amazon lists (Dec. 18 release for the DVD) with Somova and Shklyarov. I didn't know that it would be shown at a movie theater so letting people know in case anyone has interest in it and wasn't aware about this (like me). Check your local theater listings.

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Correction: it is listed with Fathom Events, not Fandango!

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I just came from the 7:30 showtime. What a disaster...the Mariinsky is in desperate need of a XIX century reconstruction...

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I just came from the 7:30 showtime. What a disaster...the Mariinsky is in desperate need of a XIX century reconstruction...

LOL You haven't seen anything yet! Wait till you see the Mariinsky's Chemiakin Nutcracker choreographed by Kiril Simonov! You will see black snowflakes and dead children singing! LOL You will long for the Vainonen version after that!!!

I did think today's Nutcracker was less impressive than the 1994 video that has been available. There were some minor changes too. Pink wigs were gone and replaced with white wigs. The wizard appeared less. The boat that you see Masha and the Prince ride in 1994 is nowhere to be found. Also, I thought in 1994 Larissa Lezhnina performed the entire role from the beginning. Maybe I need to re-watch it. Today, a young girl played Masha until the Mouse King was killed. Then the Nutcracker and she were transformed into Shklyarov and Somova. I thought the Arabian dancers were overall weaker than in 1994 also.

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I went to the matinee in Seattle today, and thought the production did have a dated feel to it (those little antennae on the corps in the Waltz of the Flowers!) But I'm not sure that a revival of the original choreography is their only option -- I do wish that they were better stewards of their classical heritage, but if they are bent on something other than Petipa, there are other Nuts in the world that are more dansant than this.

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ROTFL! Glad that I didn't waste any money on the DVD!!! I saw a quick 'intro clip' on the Fathom website and saw that this was filmed with the same loopy stro-mo cameras used to film the JEWELS DVD. No thanks. I'll stick with the ca-1990 Philips VHS/DVD starring Larissa Lezhnina and the 2001 Vaganova Graduation film of the last act starring then-student Terioshkina in the grand pas de deux/pas de six!

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Maybe the ad has the loopy cameras like Jewels, but I don't think the actual performance did (I think this was supposed to be in 3-D, but the movie theatre I went to did not do it in 3-D, but maybe that is why the ad looked loopy, but I think overall the 1994 version is a better overall performance. When the flowers dance and the men pick up the women in a line just with their forearms as they are clasping hands yesterday's movie had a guy center constantly looking shaky like he was either going to drop the two women on either side as he lifted his forearms or his arms were going to go out of joint. I am not putting him down. I would shake like that also, but in the 1994 video you see no shaking. There were other tiny moments like that throughout.

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I saw the Mariinsky Nutcracker broadcast last night. A few comments (and I am not a dancer):

I immensely disliked the 3D presentation. It seemed to distort bodies and perspective on the stage so that dancers in the background looked bigger than dancers in the foreground. Most of the dancers in the foreground looked like those Baroque paintings of children- adults in shrunken skinny distortion. Was that an effect of the 3D?

The corp were beautifully synchronized as I expect from the Russian companies... though I did notice many women had the hyperextended expression in tendu (am I even framing this correctly?) I expect it from Somova and thought she maintained more control than I've seen of her in the past. My daughters have been studying with Vaganova school-trained teachers and they teach an exquisite port-de-bras that I just did not see last night. Understanding Petipa preceeded Vaganova - were these arms a choice particularly for this choreography, or is this a new thing at the Mariinsky Ballet? If so, I feel like they've lost their heritage.

I loved the staging, the expressiveness of the children, the dolls, the war scene and the costumes. I loved watching Gergiev conduct the orchestra. However, overall, it felt kinda flat. That could be because Nutcracker is our family's life this time of year.

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To start with, the very Imperial stage that gave birth to this ballet, doesn't has it. The Mariinsky DOES NOT has a Nutcracker. The libretto is completely gone,the structure of the ballet altered to unprecedent levels. Yes, the big complain of the Nutcracker either in the XIX Century or now is that balletomanes have to wait until the very end to see the Prima perform the formal Pas, but until now, I have seen by both Alonso and Balanchine that this can be fixed without having to alter the story and its characters. Whereas Mr. B chooses to make it more children-inspired and speed up the ballerina variation earlier in the second act, or Alonso decides to have three ballerinas on pointe in the begining, the middle and the end of the ballet-(Clara, Snow Queen and Fee-Dragee)-with their respective partenaires and a formal pas each one, they still preserve the second act as what it was envisioned by their creators: a feast from Dragee to her guests, who are always seen onstage watching the dancing and enjoying the celebrations. In the Mariinsky this is all lost. The second act is merely a set of divertissements with no hostess and no guests from a foreign land. What a mess. Instead we have Masha/Clara/Sugar Plum all in one dancing a pseudo version of the Rose Adagio, even using some men from the previous Waltz of the Flowers. The ballet is weak in its dancing aspect, true, but its main fault is structural.

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ROTFL! Glad that I didn't waste any money on the DVD!!! I saw a quick 'intro clip' on the Fathom website and saw that this was filmed with the same loopy stro-mo cameras used to film the JEWELS DVD. No thanks. I'll stick with the ca-1990 Philips VHS/DVD starring Larissa Lezhnina and the 2001 Vaganova Graduation film of the last act starring then-student Terioshkina in the grand pas de deux/pas de six!

This past weekend, Ovation TV showed this intro clip after every commercial during it's annual "Battle of the Nutcrackers" competition. I'm ITA with you Natalia: The roving cameras don't work for me either. It seems that the Mariinsky is the (only?) company that's doing this: "Jewels," Lopatkina/Korsuntsev "Swan Lake," and now this. The 1994 NHK Lezhnina/Baranov dvd is the one to get for the Vainonen production. I was fortunate enough to see Lara Lezhnina and Victor Baranov live in 1992 in that production. That dvd also has the unsurpassed conducting of the late maestro Victor Fedotov.

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Don't forget that the Mariinsky version has little to do with Petipa/Ivanov, with the exception of music and general scenario.. This is the 1930s Vasily Vainonen version, which became the 'standard' in the Soviet World, inspiring Grigorovich's own version (which also was replicated throughout the Soviet Orbit). You'll notice that NO CHILDREN are employed in the Vainonen version, which may account for the 'children' looking like miniature adults because that's exactly what you saw. Don't blame that on 3D! The only exception is Flutes Pas de Trois, danced by real children. Ditto Grigorovich - no children (but lots of freaky candelabri).

There is more Imperial-Era Nutcracker in the versions staged in the West by Russian emigrees, such as Balanchine (Russian 'hoop dance' is straight from the original) and the Royal Ballet (large portions staged via the Sergeev Harvard notes, including Waltz of the Snowflakes).

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Don't forget that the Mariinsky version has little to do with Petipa/Ivanov, with the exception of music and general scenario.. This is the 1930s Vasily Vainonen version, which became the 'standard' in the Soviet World, inspiring Grigorovich's own version (which also was replicated throughout the Soviet Orbit). You'll notice that NO CHILDREN are employed in the Vainonen version, which may account for the 'children' looking like miniature adults because that's exactly what you saw. Don't blame that on 3D! The only exception is Flutes Pas de Trois, danced by real children. Ditto Grigorovich - no children (but lots of freaky candelabri).

There is more Imperial-Era Nutcracker in the versions staged in the West by Russian emigrees, such as Balanchine (Russian 'hoop dance' is straight from the original) and the Royal Ballet (large portions staged via the Sergeev Harvard notes, including Waltz of the Snowflakes).

Grigorovich's version also has the Alfred Hitchcock "Psycho" 'Mother' wigs in the Snowflakes Waltz. I've never gotten used to that. The other "Nutcracker" at the Mariinsky, the Simonov, Chemiankin designed production, is based on

Chemiakin's artistic vision, and the Hoffmann short story moreso than the Vainonen production. The best part is

the Serpent Dance (Arab Dance), with a charismatic ballerina (like Kondaurova or Pavlenko). The role of Masha

is pedestrian; she doesn't dance en pointe until the Act 2 pdd. The music soars but the choreography doesn't.

I like the Royal's version very much - especially the Ivanov pdd in Act 2 where the music soars and the choreography

matches it.

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There is more Imperial-Era Nutcracker in the versions staged in the West by Russian emigrees, such as Balanchine (Russian 'hoop dance' is straight from the original) and the Royal Ballet (large portions staged via the Sergeev Harvard notes, including Waltz of the Snowflakes).

Let's not forget all the Fedorova-(an Imperial dancer herself)- continuity too via BRMC and BT, America's first pre 1917 clues on the ballet...mostly preserved in the Grand Pas.

Ditto Grigorovich - no children (but lots of freaky candelabri).

Ah...that damned candelabra..! happy.png

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Don't forget that the Mariinsky version has little to do with Petipa/Ivanov, with the exception of music and general scenario.. This is the 1930s Vasily Vainonen version, which became the 'standard' in the Soviet World, inspiring Grigorovich's own version (which also was replicated throughout the Soviet Orbit). You'll notice that NO CHILDREN are employed in the Vainonen version, which may account for the 'children' looking like miniature adults because that's exactly what you saw. Don't blame that on 3D! The only exception is Flutes Pas de Trois, danced by real children. Ditto Grigorovich - no children (but lots of freaky candelabri).

There is more Imperial-Era Nutcracker in the versions staged in the West by Russian emigrees, such as Balanchine (Russian 'hoop dance' is straight from the original) and the Royal Ballet (large portions staged via the Sergeev Harvard notes, including Waltz of the Snowflakes).

The dancers playing children in the party scene were clearly students, not adults. Young teens. Long, very slender young teens.

Our school, as a Russian emigree-owned school, puts on a Nutcracker that is Petipa-based, explaining the differences with the show I saw last night.

This is so much fun to learn about, thanks all!

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Don't forget that the Mariinsky version has little to do with Petipa/Ivanov, with the exception of music and general scenario..

...which is exactly my point about the Mariinsky, Natasha. How is that this Imperial stage has given up one of its jewels...? I can understand that Vainonen's version is still venerated-(every other Russian touring company offering Nuts have more or less a rendering of it)-but...don't we think it is really time for the Mariinsky to show the world the ballet in all its Imperial splendor...? The real candy canes, Mother Commedia's divertissement, the parade of matryoshka dolls, the wonderful, still preserved Grand Pas, even the giant bee in the apotheosis, but more important...the REAL LIBRETTO-(party offered in act II by Fee Dragee to her hosts). After what I saw last night, I could see the old stage screaming for it...

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I just came from the 7:30 showtime. What a disaster...the Mariinsky is in desperate need of a XIX century reconstruction...

Mariinsky (Vainonen) Nutcracker in 3D

Ann Arbor Quality Theatres

Dec 3 2012 7:30 pm

Alina Somova

V Shklyarov

Disaster compared to Shemyakin? Naah! More until later, when I calm my nerves and I can recall some virtues of it.

The 3D was really 3-dimensional.

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Mariinsky (Vainonen) Nutcracker in 3D

Ann Arbor Quality Theatres

Dec 3 2012 7:30 pm

Alina Somova

V Shklyarov

1 the first of its virtues is Masha who is an 11-12 (?) year-old Vaganova student, elegantly trained with beautiful 90 degree arabesques , excellent pointes. All the children in the party scene are charming [no cdb as 'children'].

2 Drosselmeyer does not look 'possessed' and the nutcracker does not look like it cracks nuts. The nutcracker looked like Karagyoze, the Greek & Turkish protagonist of shadow theatre. Where and why does the Balkan commedia del'arte icon locate himself in Russian folklore?

3 The snow flakes scene comes after Somova and Shklyarov 'is dreamed' by Masha and the famous Vainonen scene, with the whirlwinds of snow, headed by two coryphées take over. Charming, yes; a relic.

Balanchine has superceded it. Forever.

4 By the way: the automata for the party are faux-naïve. The harlequin has thrilling jumps and the pink ballerina is quaint.

5 Of all the variations in the konfitenberg, I liked the best the three Vaganova students, with the pdt of the sheperdesses. The female students were dashing with their changements sur les pointes, and the elegant male was virtuosic with his entre chats-quatre. Ah, youth!

The Arabian was likeable, soft-edged, devoid of exotica. I really enjoyed it.

PS I can't really say I enjoyed the pdd with corps de ballet [or pas de six, as Natalia wrote] of Somova and Shklyarov….and Vainonen.

They have no empathy for each other.

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Mariinsky (Vainonen) Nutcracker in 3D

Ann Arbor Quality Theatres

Dec 3 2012 7:30 pm

Alina Somova

V Shklyarov

1 the first of its virtues is Masha who is an 11-12 (?) year-old Vaganova student, elegantly trained with beautiful 90 degree arabesques , excellent pointes. All the children in the party scene are charming [no cdb as 'children'].

2 Drosselmeyer does not look 'possessed' and the nutcracker does not look like it cracks nuts. The nutcracker looked like Karagyoze, the Greek & Turkish protagonist of shadow theatre. Where and why does the Balkan commedia del'arte icon locate himself in Russian folklore?

3 The snow flakes scene comes after Somova and Shklyarov 'is dreamed' by Masha and the famous Vainonen scene, with the whirlwinds of snow, headed by two coryphées take over. Charming, yes; a relic.

Balanchine has superceded it. Forever.

4 By the way: the automata for the party are faux-naïve. The harlequin has thrilling jumps and the pink ballerina is quaint.

5 Of all the variations in the konfitenberg, I liked the best the three Vaganova students, with the pdt of the sheperdesses. The female students were dashing with their changements sur les pointes, and the elegant male was virtuosic with his entre chats-quatre. Ah, youth!

The Arabian was likeable, soft-edged, devoid of exotica. I really enjoyed it.

PS I can't really say I enjoyed the pdd with corps de ballet [or pas de six, as Natalia wrote] of Somova and Shklyarov….and Vainonen.

They have no empathy for each other.

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It was the "3D" factor made me decide to pass this by. 3D filming -- even when not shown in real 3D in a theater -- distorts what one sees in a way that destroys things for me.

I have been trying to figure out what it is, especially, that made the 2011 Giselle so awful (for me) to look at. Alistair Macaulay's NY Times review of Nutcracker, finds exactly the right words. imo, anyway.

As in the 2011 Mariinsky broadcast of “Giselle,” the 3-D format itself remains a serious problem, detracting from the experience far more than it adds. Even in an orchestra pit, it makes space look artificial; the violins sometimes looked as if a film of them were being superimposed onto another film of the harp and other instruments behind them. You can imagine how much worse this made the stage picture look: not like a record of a live stage performance (which it was) but instead like an awkwardly contrived studio construct.

Ballet of all arts is most dependent on the visual. I'd be interested in hearing more from those who either don't mind this, or don't mind it enough to allow it to get in the way of their appreciation of what they are looking at.

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In Jupiter it was not in 3D at all even though the credits said it was. I guess theaters had the choice to make it 3D or not. Maybe I am on crack, but I did not see any distortion of the picture. It was like a regular movie for me. But I did say above that overall the 1994 video is much better. I feel the corps de ballet is THE star of the Mariinsky and the corps is in much better form in the previous recording.

I have to say that I was relieved when it wasn't in 3-D at my parents' local movie theater. I do think 3-D is too gimmicky and distracting. Only good for cheesy movies like horror films, in my opinion. I don't think any serious film has ever been done in 3-D, or am I wrong? I think it is usually action films or horror films. People have an innate sense that it is sort of a contrived gimmick that works with trashy fun films but not serious art. But I could be wrong.

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I disliked the whole thing so much that the 3D factor didn't make it any worse or better. It was very "whatever" to me...

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Didn't they do the cartoon-based-on-humans blue people movie in 3D? For the life of me, I can't remember its name, but it was very popular. "Pina" was also done in 3D.

I saw the Mariinsky "Giselle" movie in 3D, and it made me dizzy. I've only seen "Pina" on DVD, but it's the only movie so far that would inspire me to see another in 3D.

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Didn't they do the cartoon-based-on-humans blue people movie in 3D? For the life of me, I can't remember its name, but it was very popular.

You're thinking of Avatar, which was indeed shown in 3D, but used CGI technology to transfer human action into an animated environment. There have been many different dance-oriented projects made using CGI, with varying results (Smeagol {sp?}) in the Tolkien films is an excellent example of what it can do) but the 3D part is a separate element.

You mention the Pina Bausch film, and it was a great use of the technology. We've discussed that film on BA before (not enough time to find link) so I won't repeat except to say that it was not a theatrical performance, and so they could plan their camera work in a different way. Director Wim Wenders took considerable pains with the preparation for that project.

I saw the Giselle as well as this Nutcracker, and although I'm not willing to say that 3D will always be a dud in a live theater setting, they certainly have much more work to do. My experience here was similar to the Giselle in that the technology seems to shrink the amount of space that can be in focus in any one shot. Generally, in a 2D film of a theatrical work, I can look between the principal dancers downstage and the corps upstage and feel that both groups are in focus -- with these projects, the window is much smaller, so that if I look away from the principals, the rest of the image is slightly fuzzy. I don't think it has to work this way -- it certainly didn't in the Bausch film, or in Werner Hertzog's film about the newly-discovered prehistoric cave paintings, which is also in 3D (and was made with very small cameras, so it's not a matter of camera size). It's been years since I really knew much about cameras, (Amy -- help?) but as I understand it, there are two different processes in use currently, and the Wenders and Hertzog projects used one, while the Giselle (and I imagine the Nut) used the other.

Aside from the 3D issues, though, I felt there were some real deficits in the filming of this Nut -- the mobile camera that seemed to be located above the stage on stage left was very, very active, and in some cases I felt a little queasy. The ballet was made to be seen from a single point of view, and in some ways I feel that an over-mobile camera can defeat whatever the choreographer was trying to achieve, especially in the corps work.

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By the way, I want to extend a welcome you, Wallis. Looking forward to hearing from you often in future Ballet Alert discussions.

It seems to me that the implications of 3D technogy are huge for the future of ballet film. Visual distortion on this order -- and I like Wallis's comparison to distortions of size and depth in certain Baroque paintings -- seriously corrupts the look of any work, but especially one that is so quintessentially visual..

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