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The Nutcracker (The American Ballet Theatre) [VHS]

4.5 out of 5 stars 355 customer reviews


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Product Details

  • Actors: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Alexander Minz, Gayle Young, Sallie Wilson
  • Directors: Tony Charmoli
  • Writers: Yanna Kroyt Brandt
  • Producers: Herman Krawitz, Lois Bianchi, Yanna Kroyt Brandt
  • Format: Classical, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM / UA Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: December 23, 1993
  • Run Time: 79 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (355 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301971531
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,285 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The American Ballet Theater version of the Tchaikovsky classic, a 1977 studio rendition directed by Tony Charmoli, has become a holiday perennial on PBS stations and home video. It's a favorite of parents who want to give their kids the gift of culture--and with good reason. There's a loose fairy tale plot to keep dance neophytes interested, and Boris Aronson's eye-candy production design is a series of lavish dioramas. From an imperial-era Russian Christmas party out of Tolstoy, a young girl named Clara (Gelsey Kirkland) is whisked in dreams to an imaginary world populated by the animated creations of the wizard toy maker Drosselmeier (Alexander Minz), who prances on his stick-thin limbs like a Dickens illustration come to life. The main attraction is, of course, Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the greatest classical dancers of the century, at his absolute peak of athleticism and precision. An opening slow-motion montage diagrams his fabled smoothness of execution, elegant airborne trajectories that have a feather-light perfection. Music lovers who know only "The Nutcracker Suite" will relish the chance to hear this great score all the way through, conducted with lilt and vigor by Kenneth Schermerhorn.

Amazon.com

The American Ballet Theater version of the Tchaikovsky classic, a 1977 studio rendition directed by Tony Charmoli, has become a holiday perennial on PBS stations and home video. It's a favorite of parents who want to give their kids the gift of culture--and with good reason. There's a loose fairy tale plot to keep dance neophytes interested, and Boris Aronson's eye-candy production design is a series of lavish dioramas. From an imperial-era Russian Christmas party out of Tolstoy, a young girl named Clara (Gelsey Kirkland) is whisked in dreams to an imaginary world populated by the animated creations of the wizard toy maker Drosselmeier (Alexander Minz), who prances on his stick-thin limbs like a Dickens illustration come to life. The main attraction is, of course, Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the greatest classical dancers of the century, at his absolute peak of athleticism and precision. An opening slow-motion montage diagrams his fabled smoothness of execution, elegant airborne trajectories that have a feather-light perfection. Music lovers who know only "The Nutcracker Suite" will relish the chance to hear this great score all the way through, conducted with lilt and vigor by Kenneth Schermerhorn. --David Chute

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
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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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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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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Format: DVD
This version of the Nutcracker contains some of the most moving, spectacular dancing you will ever see on video (and will rival most, if not all, of the live dancing you will ever see!). Ignore the amateur critics who try to tell you that there is some kind of sinister, pedophilic undertone to the relationship between Clara, danced by the incomparable Gelsey Kirkland, and her Uncle Drosselmeyer, danced by Sasha Minz. He is her godfather, she is his niece, nothing more. He gives her the gift of a dream, and when the dream is over, he comes to take her back to reality. There is nothing sinister here. THIS VIDEO IS COMPLETELY APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN!

As a highly trained ballet dancer who has loved this version of the Nutcracker for many, many years, I can say without hesitation that this is absolutely the best version available. The Balanchine version, no matter which company dances it, is cheesy and uninspired. The choreography is dry and simplistic. I've never been a fan of Balanchine, who dumbed down the art of ballet until it was almost depressing. Baryshnikov's version is a breath of fresh air, and watching him with Ms. Kirkland will take your breath away. There's a reason the 1970s were the (albeit brief) American dance renaissance. This version brings life back into the ballet. If you haven't had the pleasure of catching this unbelievable ballet on PBS, do not hesitate to buy it. I've been watching it for 26 years and the final pas de deux still brings tears to my eyes!
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