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What Nutcrackers are you seeing?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 06 December 2002 - 07:32 AM

I hope we're not boycotting Nutcracker this year! 'Tis the season.

What's your Nutcracker like this year? Please report!

#2 beckster

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 05:47 AM

I was planning to boycott. I know it's practically blasphemy, but I really hate the Nut, and I don't even live in the USA where it is ubiquitous. However, I'm going to see Bourne's "Nutcracker!" in the hope that it will be a bit different and will cure me of my prejudice.

#3 Maxi3D

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 08:09 AM

I wonder why should we boycott Nutcracker? The Nutcracker season is where most small campanies earn their incomes isn't it? Anyway I am planning to see most of the performances put out by the local companies in my city. They need all the supports they can get. :)

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 08:16 AM

Good for you, Maxi. I hope you'll tell us about them. Some of the most interesting Nuts I've seen are from the smallest companies. They're not grand ballet, so often subscribers to larger compoanies won't go, but they're full of the joy of dancing.

#5 vagansmom

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 08:31 AM

This is my daughter's 11th and final year dancing in her ballet school's Nutcracker, so for me it's a nostalgia-ridden time. We always see the student production and usually one professional Nut - sometimes NYCB, sometimes Boston. In the past, we always saw Hartford Ballet's Nut; this year Dance CT, HB's down-sized replacement, has asked Kirk Petersen to return to stage his American Nutcracker for them. They've invited back the principal dancers from that Nut. We're looking forward to seeing it once again.

I love the Nutcracker, not for its dancing as much as for how children respond to it. I enjoy watching the reactions of the little kids in the audience every bit as much as I enjoy the performance. After countless years of Nut viewing, we can forget just how magical an experience it is for little ones. Years ago, I taught pre-school. During the holiday season I always played Tchaikovsky's music for the ballet at lunchtime. Each day the same little girl would come sit on my lap during the music for the Battle Scene. She'd say hopefully, "The mouse king isn't real, right? It's all pretend?" And then, towards the end of that score, she'd sigh deeply in relief, "Good, the Nutcracker soldier got him."

#6 fabiana

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 12:09 PM

I live in Milan so I'm gonig to see La Scala Ballet. They'll do tha Nureyev version with, in the role of Drosselmeyer/prince, Roberto Bolle and Massimo Murru. Here there isn't the tradition to do Nutcracker every year so I'm going to take the opportunity to see them both!!!
Fabiana

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 12:12 PM

Hello, fabiana! Thank you for posting that. We don't hear enough about Italy and Italian ballet. I hope you'll write after you've seen the performances and tell us what you thought, and some comments on the dancers. You won't find a forum for any Italian company in the International Ballet Companies forums not because we're not interested, but because we don't have any Italians!!!

It's interesting that more and more European companies are starting to do Nutcracker at Christmas. You're right -- it hasn't been a tradition there.

#8 Farrell Fan

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 01:10 PM

Although there was much about Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake that I liked, the thought of his Nutcracker makes me cringe.

I hadn't been to a performance of NYCB's Nutcracker in 3 or 4 years, but this year I returned, courtesy of a house seat from SAB. It was in the center of the 5th row of the orchestra. From that distance much of the stage magic was lost for me, but not for the many children seated in the rows in front of me. Vagansmom is absolutely correct about watching them. They were delighted by what was going on, and I was entranced looking at them.

I did look at the stage too. The performance I saw was at 6 p.m. on December 3rd, and I loved everything about it. Wendy Whelan was Sugarplum; Philip Neal, her cavalier; and Jennie Somogyi, Dewdrop. Andre Kramarevsky seemed to have toned down the eccentricities of his Drosselmeyer since the last time I'd seen it.

At any rate, I think I stayed away too long from (to give it its full, formal title) George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.

#9 SABgurlie24

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 02:43 PM

Farell Fan, I was just wondering, do you like Kramerevskys toned down Drosselmeyer better, or did you like it better before?

#10 Farrell Fan

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 03:09 PM

I'm glad you asked that question, SABgurlie, because it made me think about it. I've decided I liked it better before, when Kramerevsky was more over-the-top.

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 04:37 PM

And I preferred Shaun O'Brien when his Drosselmeyer was a weirder sort of old duck. That was before Balanchine told him to make his character "more like Robespierre". That's a scary enough character right there, but how do you do that with the mime there in place? It would appear that in his quest to make all Old Coots into Ancient Knights, he had ignored his earlier statement that it was very difficult to express your mother-in-law through classical mime!;)

#12 Treefrog

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Posted 07 December 2002 - 09:31 PM

Here in Chicago, the Joffrey opened it's Nutcracker last night.

This is a splendid production, very Victorian. What I appreciate so much is that it is staged at the Auditorium Theatre, which was built in just about the same year that Tchaikovsky wrote the Nutcracker music. It's a grand venue that suits this production to a T.

We were sitting quite close to the stage (third row, a little to the right), so it was actually difficult to appreciate the staging, particularly in the party scene and battle scene, which are quite crowded. Besides, my eyes were riveted on one particular party child so I missed quite a lot of what went on. I am happy to report that that child danced exquisitely...:) ;)

I always enjoy the snow scene. The Joffrey has it framed in two rows of "tree angels". These are bouréeing children in skirts that look like snow-covered trees, carrying electric torches. It is a stunning effect. The entrance of the snowflakes is also very effective; they kind of tumble around randomly, and look exactly like the beginning of a snowstorm in the wind.

I'm also a sucker for the part where the Cavalier mimes the first act's action for Clara. I know a lot of people think it's silly, but if well done it seems both humorous and triumphant to me. Willy Shives was the Cavalier last night, and he performed it admirably.

The real highlight of the evening -- aside from that party child, of course ;) -- was the interplay between the Cavalier (Shives) and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Maia Wilkins). The chemistry between them was palpable. They so clearly enjoyed dancing together. It leant a particular energy to their pas-de-deux, which stirred me in a way that the rest of the production hadn't (perhaps I was too close, too jaded, or too tense). I don't always enjoy the Sugar Plum/Flowers scene, which sometimes can make Nutcracker into one of Manhattnik's ballets that are "more too-long than others". Last night, I didn't want it to end.

#13 scoop

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 12:26 PM

Thanks for the review, Treefrog. I'm taking my 4-year-old niece to the Joffrey's Nutcracker in Chicago later this month. After four nephews in a row (one of whom was actually in a figure skating Nutcracker as a little boy), I'm delighted to have one of those little-girls-in-velvet that make Nutcracker audiences so much fun. I enjoyed seeing the Joffrey's Nutcracker years ago when they performed at the Kennedy Center, so it'll be a treat to catch up with it again.

#14 jbtlse

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 04:05 PM

I've seen Boston Ballet's Nutcracker twice and Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre twice--I'll see them both many more times this season!.

Boston Ballet

I'm a bit self-conscious about reviewing it because I saw it press night (12/4)--and professionals reviewed that!
I thought it was the best danced Boston Ballet Nutcracker I've seen in years--the company looked well-rehearsed and the dancing was fresh and clean and energetic. Because I have seen this Nutcracker consistently for many years (and many times a season) it makes clear what has been suspected--Mikko Nissinen has really revived this company! My hope is that the crowds that come for Nutcracker will be inspired to return for La Fille mal Gardee and beyond.

One thing I don't like though is the new Nutcracker advertising identity--too garish!

JMBT

I hadn't seen this Nutcracker since it moved to the Sanctuary Theatre--it is amazing how they transform the church into a theatre--and it is very successful. The audience size is 250 so it is a very intimate experience. The sightlines are great and you can really see the dancers' faces and feet--which is certainly a different perspective. I particularly like Jose Mateo's Waltz of the Flowers (my favorite part in BB is Snow). Sometimes, though, I think the stage is too crowded with dancers.

I hope I have the energy and opportunity to see some of the other Nutcrackers around town--particularly the "Urban Nutcracker"

#15 Treefrog

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 07:09 PM

Scoop, I wanted to send you this info by private message, but you haven't gotten it activated yet. Be sure to stop by the manager's office (just to the right after you enter the lobby) and get that niece of yours a booster cushion. The kids tend to enjoy the spectacle so much more when they can see it!

For what performance do you have tickets? If you care, I can try to find out who is dancing. Send me a PM, after you get it activated.


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