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The Nutcracker / Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Charmoli (1977)

Mikhail Baryshnikov , Gelsey Kirkland , Tony Charmoli  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)

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The Nutcracker / Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Charmoli + Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake / American Ballet Theatre, Murphy, Corella + Ballet Favorites - Newly Revised Version
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Product Details

  • Actors: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Alexander Minz, Nanette Glushak, Gayle Young
  • Directors: Tony Charmoli
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2004
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002S6428
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,149 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Nutcracker / Baryshnikov, Kirkland, Charmoli" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Under Baryshnikov's inventive direction, the traditionally lighthearted story of a small girl's dream on Christmas Eve is transformed into a more complex theatrical experience.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
147 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and provocative performance September 14, 2005
By Elly
Format:VHS Tape
I'm not a dancer, former dancer, or big ballet fan -- just a musician who's seen several different "Nutcrackers" and, frankly, not been thrilled by any of them. But this one is thrilling to me, and to my three-year-old daughter!

I've always found "The Nutcracker" boring and syrupy in plot, though I enjoyed much of the music and some of the dancing. Yes, this ABT version has an "adult" theme (or several) -- but I find this enriches the ballet for me and it's interesting to try to figure out who's who and what's what among the characters. (I've really enjoyed reading other reviewers' interpretations!)

Meantime, my three-year-old daughter is enjoying the story from her new-to-ballet point of view. The "adult stuff" goes right over her head. She's interested in the silly people dressed up like mice, the "big machine that makes fog" (the cannon), the Christmas tree that grows, etc. She gets out one pretty dress after another from her closet and tries them all out as "dance suits" as she twirls around the diningroom imitating the dancers' dramatic arm movements.

I find Baryshnikov's choreography fresh, free, and full of life. And full of surprises -- for example, I love the dance where Clara is gracefully tossed from one male dancer, or pair of male dancers, to another. I've read that Baryshnikov felt stifled by the strict classical choreography of the Soviet ballet, and in this "Nutcracker" I see him breaking free of that stifling tradition and creating a beautiful, thought-provoking, and -- yes -- provocative (for adults) new dance.

Baryshnikov's dancing is spectacular -- his strength, form, precision -- and rich in feeling. Kirkland's dancing is near perfection and her portrayal of her awakening feelings for her prince is excellent.
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154 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A coherent "Nutcracker" at last December 20, 2004
Format:DVD
Probably the most popular of all ballets, Tchaikovky's "The Nutcracker" is pretty much required holiday viewing for children and the experience is one to be shared with parents, too. The sparkling score, by turns intensely dramatic and supremely exhilarating, is as familiar as any Christmas carol or hymn.

The essential problem with the ballet's original staging is that the story line falls apart in the second act. The first act has a reasonable plot line given that this is a child's dream story. But after Clara helps the Nutcracker defeat the Mouse King and he turns into a handsome prince, they depart for the Kingdom of Sweets and, after the Waltz of the Snowflakes, the story line evaporates. Once the pair arrive in the Kingdom, poor Clara sits out the entire second act watching a succession of sweet treats dance the audience into diabetes, while Prince Charming deserts her for the Sugar Plum Fairy. In other words, the original staging gives the entire second act no plot line whatever, only a succession of divertissements with solo turns and a final pas de deux for the prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Mikhail Baryshnikov's inspiration was to give this fragmented succession of dream images into a coherent story. Unfortunately as witness Celia Franca's infamous "it makes me want to vomit" rant, Baryshnikov's version is often misunderstood. Clara is not having an affair with Drosselmeyer, nor does he desire her.

The key to understanding Baryshnikov's interpretation is the Mouse King. It is immediately obvious from the King's costume--a long purple frock coat & short violet cape--that he is Clara's dream transformation of the drunken adult male party guest who wrenches off the Nutcracker's head (replacing Clara's brother as the culprit).
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106 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Presentation November 16, 2004
Format:DVD
I must apologize for my bad english, but I just had to write this rewiev. I had vhs tape of this ballett and I waited DVD version for years, so there's no need to say that I'm extreamly happy. Most of rewievers here said that the production is not excellent, you may like other versions more. So... I have seen all the versions and I must say they can't compete with this one. They all lack true feeling. If you read memories of soviet balletdancers, you realize, how monotonous was the repertory politics in Kirov or Bolshoi Ballett. ABT gave Baryshnikov a chance to do things differently and who can claim that it's bad?

Example:rewier "rss28" claimes that the great pas de deux is actually pas de trois...only because Drosselmeyer appers to be in the scene! I see it otherwise. Mr. Drosselmeyer is NOT a person here, but he appers to be the TIME. Time flys by, if we like something, we always have to little time to enjoy it, Clara doesn't want to go home, but she has to and time has come. In all other versions the Prince and Clara are watching the pas de deux, but here they are actually involved, it's their story and this dance gives a ballett hole new meaning and depth. I'm sorry, but normally this pas de deux is boring, it's only fireworks and tehnique, no EMOTION! But it was Anna Pavlova who said that ballett is not a tehniqe, but soul. To me the pas de deux is extreamly beautiful, I can see love, sweet passion, all these tender feelings. Thank you, mr. Baryshnikov for that great experience.
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119 of 132 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
There are not many video opportunities to watch Gelsey Kirkland dance at all, much less when partnered by Mikhail Baryshnikov ("Baryshnikov at Wolf Trap" is the only other one I know of). For those of us who watched them on stage, it was a magical partnership even if at the time we did not know its tragic undertones. Other than an occassional outing with Makarova, Baryshnikov was never as evenly or stimulatingly matched. Pity there is no record of their Giselle or La Sylphide or Gelsey's "The Leaves are Fading". Both artists were at their peak when they danced together, and their peak to this day remains of the highest order. So, we are lucky that some record exists.

Unfortunately, one wishes this were a better document. This is a studio performance, and at times looks rather cramped. For some reason, even on DVD, everything seems taped in soft-focus, with a bluish gauzy overlay that becomes irritating. The choreography is thoroughly undistinguished if not boring. As noted elsewhere, the Arabian Dance is missing. It's fun to spot some ABT regulars of the period such as Warren Conover and George de la Pena, even if they don't do much. But this Nutcracker has been re-conceived to be Gelsey's and Misha's show, and, limited a show as it may be, they are the only reasons to purchase this DVD, if at all. If you are looking for a Nutcracker for the sake of having a DVD of the ballet, this is not for you. Try the Royal, or Balanchine's with NYCB, the Kirov or the Bolshoi.
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