kshandra: illustration of the classic drama masks (Comedy/Tragedy)
[personal profile] murphymom and I went to the Fathom Events screening of The Nutcracker as performed by the Bolshoi Ballet, originally recorded in 2014.

I was surprisingly underwhelmed. Make no mistake, it was certainly well-executed. But there were aspects of the production with which I did not agree. In no particular order:

  • The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier were eliminated, with those dances going to Marie and the Nutcracker Prince. (I've since discovered that this was a change that the Bolshoi originated in 1919, but none of the productions I had seen previously used that variation.)
  • The dancers from the Land of Sweets inexplicably took part in the fight between the Mouse King and his followers and the Nutcracker and his toy soldiers.
  • The Mouse Army appears again at the beginning of the second act, and I couldn't tell whether this was intended to be a flashback as the Prince tells his story to the Land of Sweets, or if the Mouse King was supposed to have followed the Prince and Marie there for another fight. (Something else, IMO, that was affected by the elimination of the Sugar Plum Fairy; when she's there, it's obvious to whom the Prince is telling his story.)
  • Herr Drosselmeyer was a much more sinister, meddlesome character. Yes, he's responsible for the toy that changes Marie's life, even if just for an evening, but he kept showing up throughout the second act, not simply at the end to take her back to the real world.
  • Mother Ginger was removed entirely - I don't even recall the music being used.
  • Perhaps most bothersome to me: The corps de ballet all wore matching wigs - platinum blonde for the Waltz of the Snowflakes, a slightly warmer color for the Waltz of the Flowers. The male dancers in the corps in the second act all wore matching wigs, as well. It felt very Balanchine to me, and not in a good way. (Gelsey Kirkland, in her first memoir Dancing On My Grave, details the extreme lengths to which she tried to make herself match what he saw as the ideal dancer's shape.)

I will say it wasn't all a letdown. I appreciated the fact that the Nutcracker doll was performed by a different, younger dancer, to make the transformation into the Prince all the more dramatic. I loved the behind-the-scenes footage we got before each act, with the dancers wearing leggings, down vests, etc., to keep their muscles warm before going on (including one person who I swear I saw wearing a Pikachu onesie). And getting to see the building itself was a treat.

In all, it was a good way to spend time with my mother for her birthday...but I think next year I may look for a local live production that doesn't cost the earth.
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