While watching the new Bejart Nutcracker I was struck w/ the probabilities that the evolution of regie-theater will visit on the next few generations. Discard and/or improve the libretto leads to improve and perfect the music.
First as a context I will describe the ballet. This seems to be in many ways...and I am intuitively projecting here...a bold statement that there is life in this grand old man of the dance avant guarde YET! So there, Bourne and your Car Man and Morris and your Hard Nut and the DV8 Dance Company. "Booh to you. Pooh, pooh to you"
This is not only a complete deconstruction and usurpation of the Nutcracker story but a self disclosing, some may say self agrandization, of myth creating hagiography of the dancer/artist/maitre known as Bejart and his mum. This is a paean to the complex gift to the gay-talented-boy-genius from the seductive-glamourous-nurturing-mum as the ideal of filial/maternal love,... Oedipus? Feh!...but also includes his favorite cat, Felix ...his Beatrice? And his doppelganger/Virgil as spiritual guide, Mefisto/Petipa, looking like a tres glam early studly Bejart. Plotwise, ladenwise, symbolwise. It can be read in many ways.
Eye opening is the first appearance of the corps. Bent at waist, hands clasped to ankles, bums to audience then a mass advance of the rears to downstage to the familiar march, all in shortest shorts. Jawdropping sight! No pun intended.
That Bejart has developed a great and cohesive corps is amazing given his predilection for short compact male dancers and tall, impossibly long limb and elegant female dancers. In fact all the women are paradoxically the archetypal ideal Balanchine dancer. Small elegant head atop a long supple spine, limbs both strong and long, beautiful feet and impossible extensions. Furiously fast yet able to hold a position. Would love to see the women dance Serenade. Bejart and Balanchine sharing something Feh, feh, feh. What these goddesses are given to dance however still seems stuck in the 70s the prime era of The Ballet of The 21st Century. Petit, his only surviving rival of that generation, seems to be forever reinventing and discovering new ways of beautiful dance witness the fabulous The Ellington Ballet for the
Asami Maki Ballet Company.
The Nutcracker physical production is however beautifully elegant. The whole thing screams CHIC! STYLE! ELAN!
There are jumbled remembered events here are some highlights: a boy guides camp over, cozy in the sleeping bags. China's Red Army's circus acts, couplings of flesh colored leo/unitards lovers that in many ways are more offensive than any real nudity especially when dancers mime modest nipple or genital cover-ups when there is none to cover-up and on it goes. Drag Queens as bearded sugar plum fairies, drag king black tie swains for maman. Apache dancers. A tri colored begowned 50's new look ancient strolling accordion player. The piece is a mixture of real glam, sports, dance, show biz and ballet. The final pas de deux is Petipa's original but danced in Siegfried / Odille mufti. The Nutcracker herself has morphed into a giant half figure of the Botticelli Venus, with a vagina shaped hollow in the back.... Again no pun..for significant entrances and disclosures. "I'm not making this up"
Bejart narrates his rearranged life on a giant screen w/ photos of maman etc. Bejart you dog, you. You do love you.
However,Bejart starts to reorchestrate Tchaikovsky in Act 2 w/ an aged female accordion player creating a mini Tchaikovsky Accordion concerto no.1 and then precedes to drop in various pop style turns and songs and even has a long dance sequence done to slamming of a Lully type conductor/dance master's marking pole/baton. So he not only rewrote the plot but also now the music.
Here comes the bathwater. There goes the baby.
BTW. Did I like the Bejart Nutcracker? You bet. It is exhilarating and fascinating and gorgeous and funny. expect it.
It will be repeated on Mezzo as will the better Bejart: Marteau sans Maître from the 70s, La Scala.
Also on Mezzo this month is Sleeping Beauty in the 2000 Karine Saporta realization. Have never seen it just read about it so am looking forward to that.
Just hope all the tapes arrive from France!
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