The Nutcracker (The American Ballet Theatre) [VHS]
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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.Read more ›
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.
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).Read more ›
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Is a Blu-Ray but still looks like it was recorded using very dated technology for TV.Published 15 days ago by Wild Duck
Have loved my video of this version for a loooooong time. But the quality of this DVD isn't as good as my very old video.Published 1 month ago by Ruth Westerholm
Love this version so much. It's my favorite and the only one I watch every Christmas. Baryshnikov is a dancing miracle and beautiful to watch!Published 3 months ago by ScottishClan
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