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Blast at Nutcracker


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#16 Hans

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 05:37 PM

I like the Vainonen snow pas--I'd much rather see that than a hospital bed with ruffles glued on to it rolling its dreary way around the stage to cymbal clashes--it reminds me of Tchaikovsky's overly dramatic music for those silly wooden pull toys in Act II of Swan Lake.

I also wonder if there is any Nutcracker in the world that lives up to all of those exacting specifications.

I could go on about what is/isn't in the book, whether or not they're mice or rats (who cares?), &c, but it would probably give me wrinkles and gray hair, which frankly I'm surprised I don't have already! ;)

Juliet, thank you for the balanced post!

#17 kfw

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 08:25 PM

As Doris said, this discussion has been a treat. I haven't seen nearly enough Nutcrackers to complain, but to be dyspeptic for a moment just for fun ...

In general I loved the Royal Ballet's production as shown recently on PBS, and I’ll make it a point to catch Cojocura the next time she’s in D.C. But two things -- the wigs on the snowflakes make them look like my grandmother. And isn't Clara a little underdressed at the palace? Sure she's dreaming the whole thing, but she doesn’t just watch the performers, she dances with them. That nightgown jars.

And what's that "step" where the Sugar Fairy makes as if to plunge into arabesque but stops on a dime with both arms forward? It struck me as odd and wrong for the music.

#18 Guest_Dance Fish_*

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 04:21 PM

I've always liked the Nutcracker productions that my dance school put on, but this year was a little different:
1. We had party girls, boys, guests, and then...teens. It's not like the teens really did anything, so I didn't care for them much.
2. This yeah one of the alumni came back and danced as Jack Frost. That was actually pretty cool, like he summoned the Snow Flurries and Snowflakes. And right before the intermission, at the end of the act, you saw him come back and blow a bunch of fake snow down before the lights went off.
3. The Spanish was a solo. It was probably the worst part, since I think she was suppossed to have a partner, but he wasn't strong enough.

And the night I went, a girl played Clara/Marie's brother(is it Michael?) but I know that a guy played him in another show. She was pretty good.
Also, as to the mouse/rat/ question, we always had mice AND rats. The mice were pretty much helpless, a whole crew of little things guarded by Mother Mouse, against Michael and the big, mean rats. (I think rats are cute, TOO. Why are they the bad guys?)
That's probably just what we did, though, so I don't know whether yours are mice or rats!

#19 Mel Johnson

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Posted 09 February 2003 - 05:57 PM

Actually the mouse/rat argument goes back to the original story, which is entitled "Der Nussknacker und der Mausekonig" by E.T.A. Hoffman, that's "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King". It doesn't mention rats anywhere in the story. But if your production had big mean rats chasing poor defenseless little mice, that's about the way it is in the natural world. If you have mice, you don't have rats, and vice versa, and if you have chipmunks, you don't have either one, but they don't have chipmunks in Germany.

Clara's brother is usually Fritz, but with the renaming frenzy that seems so popular nowadays, he could be called anything, and hardly anybody would notice.

#20 landrightgal

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 02:08 PM

In the NYCB production it isn't SO bad, but still maybe in the harrumph category. 

In talking to several people who were there at the time, I learned that part of the reason Balanchine chose to have a nephew in there was to showcase the talent of a wonderful child dancer/actor named Paul "Rusty" Nickel (later soloist, ABT).  He padded the Nutcracker part to create a cognate in the "real world" of the party, but if you cut that part out, and the interpolated entr'acte from Sleeping Beauty, very little, in fact nothing, would be lost from the original intent of the libretto.  Another part of the reason for the addenda was that Balanchine also wanted something more for his original Drosselmeyer, Mischa Arshansky, to do.  While this is a part of the usually-execrable practice of "making sense" of a fairy tale (who are the Grinches who thought this trend up?), it was much less offensive when done by Balanchine.   And what tragic music?  It's a descending C scale!  Furthermore, they're mice, not rats.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Mel Johnson,

Rusty Nickel was my brother. As you may know, he died way too soon at the age of 33. I wanted to thank you for your comment about him. I showed it to our mother and it made her day, possibly her year. Thank you, Joan Nickel Craig

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 02:39 PM

Thank YOU, Ms. Craig.

Rusty was a light that failed too soon, and I still remember him with fondness. I had the sad honor of receiving your father's phone call to Joffrey to inform Basil Thompson that Rusty had died, and word of it was all over the company then. He had touched many of our dancers' lives and made them better.

#22 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 09:28 AM

This is supposed to be a holiday ballet which is beautful, makes children excited about the magic and the music and the overall festivity..


Wow...this is an old thread, but i just can't stop reading it...Well. i guess i really have a totally different vision of the "Nutcracker" from national Ballet of Cuba. First, over there is not a seasonal ballet, hence it is performed as a regular ballet with productions off december, as there is not official acknowledment of Christmas. Then, there are no children involved in the production... all the characters are played by adults, "a la" 80's Bolshoi style. Also, no dark designed Drosselmayers. He is just a respectful old uncle without any complex freudian characterization. Finally, no "love story" feeling among characters whatsoever :(Clara/cousin, Clara/Nutcracker and so on) .So, straight to the point, the public's whole expectation from a Nutcracker performance is to go see 2 technically superb Fokine-based PDD, the"Sugar Plum Fairy" and the "Snow Queen/King".
:thanks:

#23 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 09:33 AM

-I'd much rather see that than a hospital bed with ruffles glued on to it rolling its dreary way around the stage to cymbal clashes

:thanks:

#24 bart

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 10:20 AM

Thanks for rediscovering this thread, cubanmiamiboy -- even if it is (for North America) a bit out of season. I love Mel's mock bah-humbug! introduction, though I also understand where Juliet, in her long post defending the institution that Nutcracker has become, is coming from.

For me the balance works out like this:

Best : the score; the rising, pulsating Christmas tree (Balanchine); the snow and music in the Snow-flake scene; the Sugar Plum pas de deux.

Worst: All versions I've seen of the mouse/rat battle; Maries/Claras who are too old for the part; all Freudian influences, or attempts to over-darken the Drosselmeyer character; those characters who just sit around the edges of the stage looking bored during the Act II divertissement.

Most fascinating viewing offstage: watching the faces and body language of first-time kids in the audience; also, watching the way the sit-up-in-your-seat excitement that most kids bring to Act I slowly fades as the very long (for kids) afternoon or evening proceeds.

#25 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 11:32 AM

I LOATHE:

... Pedophile Drosselmeyers.

...If some idiot brings in the Wehrmacht and renames the family Stahlhelm, I bring out tomatoes.


... Narrators - shoot them all.


...the Snow Queen/King (let them melt into oblivion)


... If this tendency keeps up, Fritz will soon be Heinrich Himmler Stahlbaum!


... Drosselmeyers who seem to be ready to burst into
Giselle at any given moment.


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: i most admit that, although having a different opinion about the Snow PDD and the children, i couldn't stop laughing...!!
That was great, Mel!
:tiphat:

#26 kfw

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 12:23 PM

Worst: All versions I've seen of the mouse/rat battle;

Most fascinating viewing offstage: watching the faces and body language of first-time kids in the audience;

I often remember and laugh at a reaction I never saw but only read about in an Anna Kisselgoff NYCB review: a little girl yelling to the Mouse King, "go home!"

#27 Hans

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 03:09 PM

Admittedly, it can't be easy to make a battle between giant vermin and mechanical toys look exciting...

#28 desertrose17

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Posted 26 December 2007 - 08:51 PM

Then you haven't been subjected to the right transformation scenes. See Loathing #4 above.;)



Have you seen the new lighting in the Ballet San Jose version? It was an awesome sight. The costumes, lighting, staging- And comedy to boot... the snow flake dancers were floating on stage. It was enlightening to see all the adults and children enjoying such a tradition. The company dancers are truly professional :) bravo- to Ballet San Jose!

#29 drb

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Posted 28 December 2007 - 09:05 PM

I often remember and laugh at a reaction I never saw but only read about in an Anna Kisselgoff NYCB review: a little girl yelling to the Mouse King, "go home!"

Another, reported by Jennifer Dunning:

The leading roles of the Cavalier and the Sugar Plum Fairy were danced by Damian Woetzel and Kyra Nichols, who in her first moments on stage was greeted by an indignant toddler's cry from the audience of "That's not Barney!"

To Ms. Dunning's credit, these were the final words of her review.
(This was at Monique Meunier's debut as Dewdrop, December 26, 1993.)

#30 Gina Ness

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:42 PM

Gee, Mel...Bah, Humbug... :dunno:


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