English Royal Ballet – Nutcracker (2017) – the film

December 24, 2017 at 4:25 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Concert Review, Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see the Royal Ballet’s annual production of the Nutcracker – captured on film and shown at the Light House Cuba cinema. Darcy Bussell was one of the commentators: one of the difference between a live production and a production designed to be webcast and filmed. Bussell and her co-commentator interviewed, some of the young dancers from the Company’s dance school, and Peter wright – the guest ballet master for this production. Most of the principal dancers were also interviewed – pictured as they worked with Wright. The interval was shown in its full length (the main curtain counting down the minutes).

This production has been performed every year since 1984, when Peter Wright first ‘put it together’. What I liked about this production is that the party is a substantial segment; in some productions, the party is much foreshortened, serving only to convey the nutcracker to Clara. I also liked that Drosselmeyer (Gary Avis) has such a substantive part – and played with a wonderful Rothbart-like feel at times.

Francesca Hayward and Alexander Campbell dance the parts of Clara and the Nutcracker respectively. Hayward was superb as a young girl growing into womanhood. Campbell is strong yet youthful. A lovely touch that the nutcracker is also Drosselmeyer’s son / nephew (?).

Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae dance the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince. Lamb was beautiful; McRae soared. The various Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince pas des deuxs are often overshadowed by those from Swan Lake.

This production of Nutcracker really celebrates the Rose Fairy; ‘her’ dance is an extended piece of technical and dramatic substance. The Arabian dance was a very tidily choreography piece – technically demanding of the genie (?) and her three companions. the principle companion has to hold her aloft with straight arms, when he carries her on an off the stage.

The shrinking Clara – tree expanding – sequence was superb. Though, I did find the lighting and setting for the Snowflakes a little too bright; they looked to me like icicles.

I am pleased that I went to see this. It is unlikely that i will get to see such a show in person.


Nutcracker Nation

July 9, 2009 at 1:23 am | Posted in Book Review | Leave a comment
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Nutcracker Nation by

Jennifer Fisher
Yale University Press,
New Haven and London

ISBN 0-300-09746-8

Finally, a book review … !

June 30, 2009 by

Paper Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

Nutcracker Nation – by Jennifer Fisher

This book examines how The Nutcracker came from its native Russia and took root in America. It treats the ballet as an immigrant and examines how being in america has changed it; and like many immigrants, how it changed its adopted country. It is more a work of socialogy, rather than of dance.

The book takes from the Ballet’s inception in 1892, at the Maryinski Theater, St Petersburg, under the choreography of Lev Ivanov (who stepped in for Marius Petipa). Through to George Balanchine’s productions for television, danced by the New York City Ballet, broadcast by CBS in 1957 & 1958. Through to Viji Prakesh’s bharata natyam Nutcracker and Donald Byrd’s Harlem Nutcracker.

Nation’s premise is that the Ballet has elements that easily allow an entire community involvement to become involved: there are roles for children and adults, of varying dance training, plus backstage and front-office roles. Apparently, in many towns and city the Christmas/Holiday season is ushered in by the local ballet(s) putting on their variation of The Nutcracker. And what variations there are; generally, Clara, the Mouse King, the Nutcracker/Prince, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and (uncle) Drosselmeier – or some suitable substitute – appear. The author, herself, danced as a snowflake in Fernaud Nault’ Nutcracker in Louvisille Ballet in 1963.

Clearly, the author has done a large amount of research, including following two ballet companies: Loudoun Ballet – Leesburg, Virgina, USA – and the National Ballet of Canada – Toronto. Fisher, uses the amateur and professional companies to illustrate contrasts and similarities.

It gets a little cerebral at times, but Nutcracker Nation needs to be treated as a serious book about socialogical aspect of American life, rather than a book about a ballet or how amateur and professional ballet companies operate. I found it a little dry, and would have liked to see more of the human side of the Loudoun Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada. Having said that, Fisher does give a very good summary of the evolution of The Nutcracker from its Russian origins to its current status as an America ‘citizen’, and of those who had a hand in the change. George Balanchine, a Russian emigre himself, through his willingness to stage the Ballet, and arranging it for TV, seems to have played a major role.

The book is probably a must for those with a deep interest in ballet or for whom The Nutcracker is a favourite ballet – as it goes in to the motivations behind the characters and what the characters have come to represent in America.


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