George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
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From a performance standpoint, I'd give this an A-minus mainly because the versions of "The Nutcracker" I've seen most often cast the Nutcracker Prince in a much more active role dancewise. Still, everyone else did a fantastic job. Noteworthy were the Pas de Deux by the Cavalier (Damian Woetzel) and Sugarplum Fairy (Darci Kistler), and the powerful dance presence of Coffee (Wendy Whelan). The other "Sweets" performed very well also. So long as you try not to picture Macaulay Culkin as a ballet dancer, you'll be okay. Let's face it: you can't expect the little guy to measure up next to the NYC Ballet, but he is there to add a little star appeal and possibly sell ballet to your kids (which may not be a bad idea). Nuff said. By the way, the younger performers from the School of American Ballet were wonderful.
Regarding disc features, the DVD has some cool stuff to offer: two viewing formats, 30-scene index, and some good production notes regarding the history of the show, camera choreography and description of ILM's special effects.
The dancers of the NYC Ballet and the students from its associated school, the School of American Ballet, have performed the Balanchine Nutcracker every Christmas season since 1969 (the film was made in 1993). I prefer this production in great part because children and not adults perform the children's roles unlike most of the other tapes and DVDs available. Here the kids are delighfully energetic and enthusiastic; the only sour note is Macauley Culkin as the nutcracker-prince. He attended the SAB for awhile, and he looks thoroughy bored at returning to his old haunts. I don't know if it's his fault or the director's, but his disdainful expressions are rather off-putting. He was obviously cast to draw a larger audience, and he certainly looks the part, but his dancing skills aren't good enough for what amounts to the lead role.
A recent article in the NYT said that the SAB has for some years been making a concerted effort to attract more boys (free tuition, no tights, frequent auditions, single-sex classes, etc.). The result is that all the boys' roles in this performance are filled by boys and not disgruntled little girls.
I quite enjoy this DVD, and I highly recommend it. It has few extra materials; only some short biographies and some footage about making the film. I would like to have had some rehearsal and backstage footage since I'm not familiar with how a ballet is put together.
Here we have the 1993 film version of the Balanchine production, some forty years after its premiere; and a very fine film it is. It is directed by Emile Ardolino whose influence on the filming of American dance cannot be underestimated. For years, he racked up Emmy Awards (seventeen in total!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This product came fast!!! we are so pleased with the product and the excellent price. It will be a birthday present for our son as an early Christmas gift. we are pleased.Published 3 days ago by Hiede Felder
This was a Christmas present for my 10 year old grandson. This was the only Nutcracker Video he wanted.Published 2 months ago by Dorothy
A truly great production of everyone's fav ballet. Our 5 year old watches it over and over.Published 3 months ago by Brian Tilbury
A fine film of the great classic. My family has watched this a hundred times. We love it.Published 5 months ago by Shirley Tomkievicz
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