Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Blast at Nutcracker


  • Please log in to reply
71 replies to this topic

#31 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 03:51 PM

Thanks for rediscovering this thread, cubanmiamiboy -- even if it is (for North America) a bit out of season.

...and even out ot the Nut "season" i just discovered that the version of the Royal Ballet with Anthony Dowel and Leslie Collier is almost identical from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba one...

#32 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:14 PM

Not terribly surprising, as the RB version dips deep into the corporate memory of the company, and their first production was done by Sergeyev at the Old Vic Theatre, which had a TINY stage (not as small as the Mercury, but almost). I've seen a photo of the company onstage at the Vic and it was a large crowd in a cramped frame. Now, the NBCuba production was based on the Fedorova version, so SHE was trying to do what Pavlova did, and kept the Snow Queen and King in. After all, the transformation music and Snow Scene was Pavlova's "big ballet" for much of her career. Sergeyev kept them in because he didn't have enough machinery backstage to work the Act I transformation, and besides his audience expected them.

#33 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 28 January 2008 - 10:23 PM

Not terribly surprising, as the RB version dips deep into the corporate memory of the company, and their first production was done by Sergeyev at the Old Vic Theater, which had a TINY stage (not as small as the Mercury, but almost). I've seen a photo of the company onstage at the Vic and it was a large crowd in a cramped frame. Now, the NB Cuba production was based on the Fedorova version, so SHE was trying to do what Pavlova did, and kept the Snow Queen and King in. After all, the transformation music and Snow Scene was Pavlova's "big ballet" for much of her career. Sergeyev kept them in because he didn't have enough machinery backstage to work the Act I transformation, and besides his audience expected them.


Thank you Mel, as usual, for your valuable information. I found some considerations by Mme. Alonso on the subject in an old program of the Cuban "Nutcracker" back from my days in Havana. I tried to do my best doing the translation, thinking that it would be interesting to share it. I know, I'm a hardcore fan of her, but still, it's worth to read it...Please, forget my grammar mistakes. I'm still working on my english... :smilie_mondieu:

CONSIDERATIONS ON THE "NUTCRACKER"
BY PRIMA BALLERINA ASSOLUTA MME. ALICIA ALONSO

"Although during some years the National Ballet of Cuba did not maintain in its repertoire the complete version of the Nutcracker, there have been interpreted frequently, in assemblies made by me, important fragments of the work, like the Grand pas of deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy of the second act, as well as the Snow Scene of the first act, the Trepak/Russian Dance (inserted in our extract of the Sleeping Beauty as Aurora's Wedding) and the Waltz of the Flowers.
.The complete version that I presented, with the happy coincidence of the fiftieth anniversary of the National Ballet of Cuba, I conceived it in the first place with the greater possible fidelity to the original style of the work established by Ivánov , who contributed with his own ideas within the inheritance of Petipa's style, which I also respected and followed as the choreographic original pattern. As far as the dramatic art, without harming the conventions of the style and the theater practices of the time, it happens like with other works of XIX century ; I had to rework it obtaining the synthesis and the logic that the today public demands, but in the most authentic representation of the classic inheritance.
Essentially I confer a great importance to the Grand Pas de Deux of the second act, and to a certain extent I have taken it as a stylistic base or starting point for the assembly of all the whole work. For that, it seemed to me useful to emphasize and to establish some important precisions on this PDD, given its model character inside the classical tradition and because besides, happily, the version that we present with the National Ballet of Cuba corresponds faithfully to the original one created by Ivánov, from both choreographically and stylistic point of view. The PDD of the second act of Nutcracker was, during decades, an important number in my repertoire. I included it frequently in concerts and even almost until my retirement I continued dancing its beautiful Grand Adagio. To give the well deserved historic importance of this PDD within the ballet, I have placed special care in the purity of the style and the strict respect to what is conserved of the choreography thought by Ivánov. In this days, different versions can be seen around the world, not always fortunate in their choreographic conception and style. When in the middle of the 40's i was getting prepared to dance for the first time this famous classical duet, I basically followed the choreography that Alicia Márkova and Anton Dolin taught me. The version of Márkova was very loyal to the Imperial one , since she had been fallowing the first one that was being done out of the Russian environment, carried out in England by Nikolai Serguéiev in the beginning of the 30's. This was very important, for which the choreography of Ivánov had started being forgotten. During the 20's, Fiodor Lopukov had done an entirely new version of Nutcracker for the Kirov , and at the same time that Serguéiev staged the Nutcracker of Ivánov in London, Vasili Vainonen premiered his new version at the Kirov. As for the Bolshoi , since many years before, Alexander Gorski had carried out his own version, which was substituted later on by that of Vainonen. Although I only knew the PDD just as had been carried to London by Serguéiev, i investigated and analyzed everything that was possible, trying to achieve, choreographically ,the greatest accuracy and stylistic purity according to the original one of Ivánov, and for that I had the invaluable aid of Alexandra Fedórova, who had been one of the most influential teachers in my formation. Fedórova, sister-in-law of Mikhail Fokine, had graduated at the beginning of the century in the Imperial School of San Petersburg, and then became a noticeable soloist at the Marinsky, where she belonged for many years. She was also a person of great balletic culture, and possessed an extraordinary choreographic memory, which permitted her to mount with success in 1928 the original complete version of Ivánov for the Ballet of the Opera of Riga, where she worked for a long time; and in 1940, to carry that version to the Russian Ballet of Montecarlo, where i learned and interpreted in 1957.

I had then the opportunity to compare the Serguéiev version with the version recalled by Fedórova, and I found that, in reference to the second act PDD,the choreographies were essentially identical. Still, one should understand that interpreting a classical work with stylistic and choreographic fidelity does not mean to dance it exactly the same as in its premiere. The technique and the scenic behavior are not maintained frozen in time, but they evolve. The technique is done more refined and the expressive point of view goes to a greater simplicity, to a synthesis. The talent of the artist will be shown if he or she is capable of getting to the spectator of today and corresponding to this days psychology and culture, without betraying the choreography neither the style.

In the interpretation of the SPF PDD of Nutcracker it should not be forgotten that, although is a purely academic PDD, its spirit and profusion of details make it ,within the classical style, a work totally different from other PDD's-( like that of the third act of The Sleeping Beauty for example)-. The characters of the Nutcracker PDD -(in the English speaking countries the female role is known as The Sugar-Plum Fairy, and in France as The Fee Dragée)- belong to a world of fantasy. In this they coincide with Princess Aurora and Prince Desire of Sleeping Beauty . But Aurora and Desire are, within the story,within the fantasy, "real" characters. And as such, their elegance is more "courteous" and the dynamics of their movements more "human"; the mechanics of the academicism is shown a little more conscious or accentuated. Aurora and Desire seek in a more evident way the line and the elegance, the noble or aristocratic gestures. While, in Nutcracker, the characters of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier are the quintessence of the fantasy: they belong to an impossible country of candies and dazzling fantasies, conceived in the dream of a girl. This dream world is declared in a fabulously exquisite way, so much like the illusions of the infancy are capable of creating. Therefore, even being a classical duet, in every moment the dance express certain dazzling romanticism . It's like a sweetness with sparkles, inside the classical sobriety. On the other hand the Cavalier is a gentleman , a fantasy soldier that, without stop being classic, has certain demicaractère tone. That is expressed in a certain mood, certain martial mannerisms in his positions, and in the musical accents of his dance, a little more marked or "cutting". The female dancer, that in this case is a fairy shows, within the romantic majesty, a lot of femininity and modesty. Her dance should be light, airy, of great delicacy, with the accent very markedly up. It is a sensation that recalls a romantic ballet, (like the second act of Giselle, for example), but this is an effect that,achieved within the specific form in which the technique in the classical way is used within this "Pseudo-romantic" style, makes it different from Giselle. It is not easy, of course, to meet this so extensive range of elements in a PDD that imposes large technical demands. These differences that i have indicated, illustrated with the comparison of this two different PDD's-(Sleeping Beauty vs. Nutcracker)- are very importance. It is a matter of "accents", of different views within the surreal world, that allows to differentiate the essence of these two works at first sight very clearly. In general, if we fail to qualify our dance and our interpretation, to give different tones and colors to a technique whose base is the same one, all we dance can look the same , because a deficient interpretation can dangerously impoverish the art of the ballet in a very dramatic way.

Another very characteristic moment of the Nutcracker corresponds to the Snow Scene. Here the central focus is another important PDD, danced by the Snow Queen and her King. This is a duet that requires an extreme classicism, but with a completely unreal projection, that transmit the spectator the sense of the ephemeral thing, the dance of two ethereal beings made of snow, that can dissolve in any moment. Therefore they should be totally impersonal, cold and very airy, which makes them of very difficult interpretation, reason that explains why this PDD is eliminated of many versions. In this scene, the snowflakes Corps should have, similarly, the same con-substantial, ephemeral character as the royal snow couple. All this differentiates the Snow Scene —as for style and expressive form— of the so characteristic scenes of "ballet blancs" in other works of the great classical repertoire. "

Mme. Alicia Alonso
:speechless-smiley-003:

Now you can tell why do i take so seriously the "Nutcracker"...

#34 Marga

Marga

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,022 posts

Posted 29 January 2008 - 02:51 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.)

At a performance of Festival Ballet Providence's Nutcracker last month, a little girl (maybe 3 years old) sat in her mother's lap across the aisle from me, positively enthralled by what was going on onstage. When the Mouse King appeared, however, she started screaming, and, visibly frightened, shouted "Get me out of here!!!!" (which her poor mother promptly did).

But for the incidence of fright, it reminded me of one of my own daughters' first Nutcracker. It was NYCB's in 1981 and my daughter was 3 years old. Whoever says that 3 year olds shouldn't go to the ballet does not know children like mine. My daughter was so completely, fascinatedly, drawn into the story that not a peep came from her the entire ballet, only wide-eyed amazement.

Parents who narrate the whole ballet, play-by-play, to their little ones can be irksome, especially when they get things wrong! On a different day this past season, this occurred in the seats directly behind mine, with the dad doing most of the talking. The ballet then became an interaction between him and his daughter, instead of between the daughter and the story on stage. Everything, but everything, got explained. Most annoying was the little girl repeatedly asking 'where's Clara?" whenever she didn't see her, of if Clara was offstage. By Act II, the repeated phrase was "I want to go home now".

#35 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 23 April 2008 - 09:56 PM

Now, the NBCuba production was based on the Fedorova version, so SHE was trying to do what Pavlova did, and kept the Snow Queen and King in.


Here's a lovely vintage-looking pic of the Cuban production during the Snow PDD. The King is recent defector Principal Miguel Angel Blanco. :)

http://www.danzahoy..../critica/02.jpg

#36 Solnishka79

Solnishka79

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 73 posts

Posted 24 April 2008 - 12:41 PM

My husband and I staged our first production of Nutcracker this year for our school-the audience member that got the most attention was our three year old son. He seems to be sensitive to music; he cries in our car to opera, dramatic "big" symphonies, and certain sections of Nutcracker. He cried everyday to Snow, Chinese, Arabian, and Flowers while I listened and tried to think of ideas. (It wasn't very productive) Anyway, my parents brought him to the performance and besides him yelling "My Pappy!!!Paaaappppyyy" when my husband was onstage as Drosselmeyer and "Want to dance with Momma!"while I was Mrs. Stalhbaum, he cried on cue throughout (guess what) snow, chinese, arabian, flowers. My students began to recognize his cry....

#37 whetherwax

whetherwax

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 133 posts

Posted 26 June 2008 - 03:48 PM

What do people think about reworkings of the Nutcracker?I'm thinking of Graham Murphy's Nutcracker. I found it moving in that it paid homage to those Dancers who came to Australia before the war and gave us a ballet tradition which had not existed. I also liked some of the reworking of the actual dances particularly the snow sequence although the flashbacks to the red army as rats was pretty horrible.

#38 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 26 June 2008 - 06:11 PM

What do people think about reworkings of the Nutcracker?

Unnaceptable. Productions to look at: Sir Peter Wright's and Mme. Alicia Alonso's.

#39 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,749 posts

Posted 27 June 2008 - 10:19 PM

What do people think about reworkings of the Nutcracker?

Unnaceptable. Productions to look at: Sir Peter Wright's and Mme. Alicia Alonso's.


I'm afraid I have to disagree. Not with the references to Wright and Alonso, but to the caveat about reworked Nutcrackers. I love what I know of the original choreography, but I don't have the same protective feeling about it that I do about other works from the classical canon like Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Over time, Nut has become as much a 'holiday show' as a ballet, filling a large and varied footprint for many dance companies, and I have appreciated many different productions of it. I know that as a critic I don't treat it in the same way I do other performances, and my expectations of a new production are quite different. In some ways, Nut reminds me of alternate staging of Shakespeare, where you see Midsummer Night's Dream as a 50s sock-hop or Macbeth as a Western -- it's elastic enough to embrace a wide variety of alternatives.

#40 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:06 PM

What do people think about reworkings of the Nutcracker?

Unnaceptable. Productions to look at: Sir Peter Wright's and Mme. Alicia Alonso's.


I'm afraid I have to disagree.


Don't be afraid. It is totally acceptable

I don't have the same protective feeling about it that I do about other works from the classical canon like Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.

I do

Over time, Nut has become as much a 'holiday show'


Wrong way

I don't treat it in the same way I do other performances,

I do, besides Wright and Alonso

it's elastic enough to embrace a wide variety of alternatives.

It wasn't intended to be.
:clapping: .

#41 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:59 PM

CHristian, what do you thinik of Balanchine's version? or Vainonen's?

I admire Balanchine's first act beyond anything. And Vainonen's is also wonderful, in a different way.

#42 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 28 June 2008 - 03:56 AM

I think that at least in the US, the Balanchine has become the production of record. It doesn't reproduce the Ivanov choreography in any significant way, but it certainly keeps the spirit of the original libretto.

Given its film version and video distribution, it's spread fairly widely, and European and Asian students are familiar with it. They're surprised to learn how little motion-picture effect was used in the filming.

#43 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 28 June 2008 - 04:26 PM

CHristian, what do you thinik of Balanchine's version? or Vainonen's?

Balanchine's...well, as i said before, it lacks what i consider to be the stylistic heart of the work, the "Sugar Plum Fairy PDD". I beg pardon to the majority of this board...but i find this version mutilated.
Vainonen's i have it, and saw it only once, but honestly, i don't have too many memories of it...have to revisit it.

#44 Sacto1654

Sacto1654

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 201 posts

Posted 29 June 2008 - 04:38 AM

What do people think about reworkings of the Nutcracker?I'm thinking of Graham Murphy's Nutcracker. I found it moving in that it paid homage to those Dancers who came to Australia before the war and gave us a ballet tradition which had not existed. I also liked some of the reworking of the actual dances particularly the snow sequence although the flashbacks to the red army as rats was pretty horrible.


If you want to cause a riot, go see the Mihail Chemiakin/Kirill Simonov version done by the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet that was released on Universal/Decca DVD late last year. Its very weird take on the Nutcracker story made me wonder did Quentin Tarantino or the Wachowski brothers had anything to do with it. :wub:

#45 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,272 posts

Posted 29 June 2008 - 08:49 AM

What do people think about reworkings of the Nutcracker?I'm thinking of Graham Murphy's Nutcracker. I found it moving in that it paid homage to those Dancers who came to Australia before the war and gave us a ballet tradition which had not existed. I also liked some of the reworking of the actual dances particularly the snow sequence although the flashbacks to the red army as rats was pretty horrible.


If you want to cause a riot, go see the Mihail Chemiakin/Kirill Simonov version done by the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet that was released on Universal/Decca DVD late last year. Its very weird take on the Nutcracker story made me wonder did Quentin Tarantino or the Wachowski brothers had anything to do with it. :wub:

Oh, God...


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):