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Last night Matthew Bourne fired the opening salvo in Ovation TV's Battle of the Nutcrackers. Tonight the Bolshoi returns fire, with the Balanchine/Martins version and Mark Morris's Hard Nut slated for future entry into the skirmish. After multiple airings this month of all contenders, the favorite (based on votes at OvationTV.com) will be aired Christmas eve.

Did anyone see Bourne's Nutcracker last night?

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I saw Matthew Bourne's "Nutcracker" in London a few years ago, and I thought it was good theater. It's hard to imagine how it would translate into screen, though, since a lot of its power, especially in Act I, was in the sets and costumes, which were most effective when three-dimensional.

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I saw Matthew Bourne's "Nutcracker" in London a few years ago, and I thought it was good theater. It's hard to imagine how it would translate into screen, though, since a lot of its power, especially in Act I, was in the sets and costumes, which were most effective when three-dimensional.
The video was broadcast by either A&E or Bravo in the states not long after it was made. I thought it was effectively done. The performances for camera -- including close-ups -- were of theatrical film quality. Adam Cooper came across as a real star. Oddly, it was the purely dance elements that lacked some of the weight that I am sure they had when seen in live performance.

Once you accept that this is "about" the Prince -- much more than Nureyev's version -- and once you get past the overt and unsubtle Freudian aspects the relationship between the Prince and the Queen his mother -- it's really quite enjoyable theater. I have it on VHS, but, for some reason, I haven't been inspired to watch it a second time.

Treefrog's question got me to look up Ovation's website. I am really envious of those of you who can receive it. In my area, it's available only on Direct TV.

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My favorite part in Bourne's Nutcracker is Arthur Pita dancing the sleezy spiv, Knickerbocker Glory. He was wonderful.

For me, under all the humor and the romping there is a dark layer to this ballet. Leaving the cruel and hypocritical world of the orphanage Clara is not able to get into Sweetie Land without the required ticket. When she manages to sneak in to Sweetie Land we see a world of glitz and gluttony where a celebrity styled romance and wedding are played out in front of the huge wedding cake. Only at the very end, after leaving Sweetie Land, is Clara able to find a true relationship and love in her real world. I did like the touch that it was kindness of her bespectacled, daggy and very human friends/guardian angels that helped her along the way.

However, if I were to choose one non-traditional Nutcracker it would be Graeme Murphy's The Story of Clara because that pulled me in emotionally which Bourne's Nutcracker does not.

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From the New York Times:

“The Hard Nut” won with 42 percent of the vote. “Nutcracker: The Motion Picture,” based on the Pacific Northwest Ballet production, came in second, with 27 percent. Maurice Béjart’s version claimed 16 percent, and the Bolshoi Ballet garnered 11 percent, while Matthew Bourne’s “Nutcracker!” and George Balanchine’s classic, now having its annual run at New York City Ballet, each picked up a measly 2 percent.

I must be living in an alternate universe.

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it's perhaps useful to remember that these 'votes' are by tv viewers and not necessarily by those who choose to see such works in the theater.

rather like voting for a favorite work of visual art by way of reproductions and without experiencing 'the handpainted originals" to quote an art history teacher i once had and who used to say these kinds of things to admonish art students for putting too much stock in seeing artworks on slides or in reproductions,

all these so-called competitions are obviously easily fixed/corrupted by campaigns to get a winner for a determined group pushing for one work over another.

also, the whole 'ballot' is bogus as Morris doesn't, intentionally, i've always felt, even call his production THE NUTCRACKER.

i am a big admirer of THE HARD NUT as THE HARD NUT, but not as THE NUTCRACKER.

judging any of these productions solely on the basis of a video record is limited to say the most, esp. as is the case of Balanchine's version when the film is so 'limited' and unsatisfactory overall.

let them have the fun, i suppose, and even their say, but i say, THE NUTCRACKER by Balanchine will live on stage to have the last laugh, and likely the lasting box office success.

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i am a big admirer of THE HARD NUT as THE HARD NUT, but not as THE NUTCRACKER.

I agree completely. This really clarifies my own confused thinking and the difficulty I sometimes have had in trying to defend and explain this work to traditionalists. Thanks, rg!

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Ovation TV has announced the lineup for the next "Battle of the Nutcrackers," hosted this year by Susan Jaffe.

Mark Morris's Hard Nut - Monday, December 7, 8 p.m. ET/PT

The two-year reigning champ in "The Battle of the Nutcrackers" takes on the challenge once again, leading the pack of worthy contenders. Mr. Morris's "Hard Nut" is a funky, irreverent rendition, filled with farce and laughs.

Royal Ballet: The Nutcracker - Tuesday, December 8, 8 p.m. ET/PT

From London's beautiful Covent Garden Opera House comes this elegant production choreographed by Sir Peter and featuring an acclaimed cast, including Ivan Putrov as the Nutcracker, Alina Cojocaru as Clara, Miyako Yoshida as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Sir Anthony Dowell as the toy- and clockmaker Herr Drosselmeyer. Conductor Evgenii Svetlanov leads the Royal Opera Orchestra through some of Tchaikovsky's most beloved music.

Casse Noisette Circus - Wednesday, December 9, 8 p.m. ET/PT

With music performed by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte-Carlo, this production from Belgium [sic] is choreographed by Jean-Christophe Maillot, who provides an innovative interpretation of the Nutcracker which transports the ballet to the world of circus.

Bolshoi Ballet: The Nutcracker - Thursday, December 10, 8 p.m. ET/PT

The legendary holiday ballet is performed by the magnificent Bolshoi Ballet. Featuring Natalya Arkhipova and Irek Mukhamedov. Choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich.

Bejart's Nutcracker - Friday, December 11, 8 p.m. ET/PT

A radically innovative re-imagining of The Nutcracker, this staging by acclaimed choreographer Maurice Bejart departs from the traditional Nutcracker story in virtually every way but the music. And even the score is adjusted to include French popular music, which is performed onstage by accordion legend Yvette Horner. Bejart, who passed away just before Christmas two years ago, uses the Nutcracker as a vehicle to explore his personal story.

Viewers will be able to see clips of Nutcracker performances online at www.OvationTV.com before they cast their final votes. The Viewers' Choice will be aired on Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and a Christmas Day marathon featuring all five Nutcrackers will kick off at 8 a.m. ET/PT.

Can't say I'm thrilled by the lineup, but at least Bourne's not back this year. (Come to think of it, Béjart is no improvement.)


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