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 Post subject: A few questions about the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker
PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2002 7:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 185
Location: France
I hope this is the right forum to ask those questions. Here it is : I just borrowed a videotape called "Gala Tchaïkovsky" from the library, it is a tribute given by the Royal Opera House, with both opera and ballet extracts. I've not been able to give a name to each ballet part (unfortunately the program had been removed from the tape box) but I recognized at least Nutcracker snowflakes waltz and pas de deux from the last act.<BR>What I would like to know is : <BR>- if some of you know that tape or have attended this gala, can you tell me if the costums and the choreography are the ones that are usually used for the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker ? Or are they different ? (I suppose the sets are different...)<BR>- and who made this choreography ?<P>Thanks in advance if you know the answer !<BR>BTW, since I have the POB's Nutcracker (= Noureev's one) on tape too, I have watched the two versions back to back, one variation after the other, it is very interesting to notice how the two choreographers "read" the same music so differently - it's an other picture, an other mood entirely. <BR>And I couldn't help rewatching again the whole "dance in the garden" from Noureev Image, I don't know anything as light, as lovely as this dance - simply charming.<p>[This message has been edited by AlinWond (edited June 04, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions about the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker
PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2002 9:01 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
AlinWond, I haven’t seen the video “Gala Tschaikovsky” nor the Royal Ballet’s production. But, I am aware that “Nutcracker” has evolved as it spread through space and time and budgets. Because the Royal Ballet just released a DVD, I suspect that it is a new production.<P>Last winter, Critical Dance devoted an entire discussion Forum to Holiday Performances and one thread was on the Royal Ballet’s new video/DVD:<P><A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum20/HTML/000082.html" TARGET=_blank><B>Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker</B></A><P>You touch on an interesting topic, which is the way some ballets can change over time. Certain ballets have an ability to tolerate what can sometimes be fairly drastic changes in ways that don’t really seem to happen in the other arts. Selma Jeanne Cohen wrote an interesting essay using “Swan Lake” as an example. The essay is called, “Lebedinoe Ozero by Any Other Name” and its in her book of essays, “Next Week, Swan Lake: Reflections on Dance and Dances.”<P>[As an aside about the literary arts, there actually is less stability than you might imagine. Two weeks ago in the New Yorker there was an article about the changes over time of the Arden Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Did you know that for many generations “King Lear” had a happy ending and that Ibsen himself prepared versions of “A Doll’s House” where Nora reconciled with Helmer, depending on where it was being performed?]<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions about the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker
PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2002 6:23 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: France
Jeff, thank you for your answer.<P>I've had a look at the different articles that where linked in this thread, and the fact that Noureev's 1967 Nutcracker was called "dark" and "freudian" made me wonder how much it differs from the staging he set up for the POB (the one I have on tape) in 1985.<BR>And, about literature, interestingly enough, the texts that are the most often "changed" the way you describe it are generally theatre pieces... (think Goethe's Faust, several french pieces from Molière to Musset that where modified to be allowed to be staged by the censors...). Apparently, the "performance" factor plays a lot, doesn't it ?


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions about the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker
PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2002 9:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
AlinWond, I’m not sure I actually gave you an “answer.” But, the Royal Ballet and the Nureyev “Nutcrackers” DVDs will eventually end up in an e-mail to Santa and so in my Christmas stockings this year.<P>Yes, you are right about the peculiar susceptibility of performing arts texts to instability. My suspicion is that the playwright/choreographer/director/etc has always had to answer to a wide variety of constraining influences—censors, public taste and fashion, Boards of Directors, grant giving organizations, capital backers.<P>At least one theorist, Nelson Goodman, I think (need help, dance theoreticians in the audience!), suggested that dance was especially vulnerable because of its lack of a universally and effective notation system. In other words, if choreography can’t be solidified on paper, then it’ll always be susceptible to change. That’s simplifying the situation immensely but that formulation gets at one of the basic problems.<P>Anyways, I am going to see “Swan Lake” this weekend by the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles “2 Left Feet” has just posted quite comprehensive reviews which remind me of one of the Soviet’s changes in “Swan Lake” that I like the least, which is the Jester. The Jester’s smugness really irritates me.<P>On the other hand, I don’t object to the universal deletion of Benno from the White Swan pas de deux. Nor do I object to the universal deletion of Bathilde’s reconciliation with Albrecht at the end of “Giselle.” Go figure.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions about the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker
PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2002 12:14 am 
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Joined: Wed May 02, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Scotland.UK
I already have the Royal Ballets Nutcracker DVD with Sir Anthony Dowell as Drosselmeyer..can't stop watching it , you'll love it! i also have the Video of the Royal Ballet when Sir Anthony was the prince and Leslie Collier was the sugar plum fairy.She is so dainty , the little steps when she makes her entrance..lovely.It is still available to buy , if you like video , but the other one is only available on DVD.


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 Post subject: Re: A few questions about the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker
PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2002 4:49 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I think the point is well taken that choreography seems especially vulnerable to change because of the notation - or lack thereof - process. Yes, I know there is excellent notation, but it's not quite as solid as a printed book. Even musical notation is at the mercy of interpretation to some extent.<P>However, other variants occur - the level of technique for one. If the original choreography called for a double pirouette from the male dancer, it is very tempting to rev it up to more rotations as technical prowess 'progresses.' (I put that in quotes because I am not sure that additional rotations is ipso facto 'progress' Image )<P>Another variant - since there are no ownership rights to so many of the classical ballets, each artistic director is tempted, with little to say him/her nay, to place a personal stamp upon the production. <P>There is also the temptation for change for change's sake in order to sell tickets. Except perhaps when dance was under royal patronage, there is a need to sell tickets and therefore pander to whatever sells those tickets. And, the announcement of a newer and 'better' production probably tends to do that.<P>Even under royal patronage artistic directors were constrained to please that patronage - and changes were always made with that in mind. <P>I guess the bottom line (no pun intended) is that art doesn't happen in a vacuum and there are always outside forces - unless the artist is isolated in a room and able to function immune to those outside forces and without the necessity of outside resources. <P>Maybe that's why some of them wish they were away on an island somewhere quietly painting yellow flowers.....


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