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 Post subject: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 7:49 am 
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Location: Estonia
Quote:
The Ballet Russia Didn't Want

By JENNIFER FISHER
The New York Times

We are deep in "Nutcracker" season now, from the grandest production, at the New York City Ballet, to myriad versions across America in big cities and small towns. Because it has become an annual tradition over the last 50 years, "The Nutcracker" is probably the first ballet many Americans see, sometimes the only one.

Audiences may have heard that Clara, the young heroine of "The Nutcracker," never became the icon abroad that she is here — so why have Americans adopted a little German girl as if she were a native daughter? It has something to do with the immigration process.
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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2003 5:51 am 
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Location: Maryland USA
Nuts About 'The Nutcracker'
By Sarah Kaufman,
The Washington Post's dance critic
Wednesday, December 17, 2003; Page C01

Quote:
NUTCRACKER NATION

How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World

By Jennifer Fisher

Yale University Press. 230 pp. $27

Each year, from shore to shore, in America's opera houses, civic centers and school gymnasiums, "The Nutcracker" accounts for millions of dollars of revenue. The ballet's popularity sends the familiar Tchaikovsky score wafting through shopping malls, supermarkets and TV commercials. "The Nutcracker" has become as much a part of the Christmas season as tinsel and Tiny Tim; one year, during the Clinton administration, it even inspired the White House's holiday decor. (That was when teenage Chelsea famously danced in the Washington Ballet's four-decades-old version, and the first parents were allied with thousands of others across the country in cheering their child's participation.)

Yet, given the ballet's enduring appeal, there is a surprising lack of literature on "The Nutcracker." With "Nutcracker Nation," Jennifer Fisher has produced one of the first focused examinations of why this particular Russian ballet has enjoyed such success in America, since it became established here only 50 years ago, while it is much less appreciated in its birthplace and throughout the rest of the world.
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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2003 11:53 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Hi! Thanks for these amusing posts! I'm moving this topic to the Holiday forum.


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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2003 9:54 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
A book review from Karen Campbell in the Christian Science Monitor:

http://search.csmonitor.com/search_content/1216/p15s01-bogn.html


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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2003 7:14 am 
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Location: Estonia
I found couple of replies to the first article I posted under this topic.

Quote:
A Sugarplum Fairy Who Won My Heart (2 Letters)

New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "The Ballet Russia Didn't Want," by Jennifer Fisher (Op-Ed, Dec. 13):

While George Balanchine's production of "The Nutcracker" has introduced many children — and their parents — to the ballet during the last 50 years, most of them have been in New York City. The real impetus for the proliferation of productions of "The Nutcracker" was the touring Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which performed the ballet several times a week throughout the United States in the 1940's, 50's and 60's.
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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 10:04 am 
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Originally posted by gaeadea:

Quote:
New book offers insight into 'The Nutcracker'

By MOLLY GLENTZER
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

A new book by Jennifer Fisher hits the stores this week, offering entertaining insight into America's favorite ballet, which, incidentally, is nowhere nearly as popular elsewhere.

Nutcracker Nation, the California dance historian's account of how Tchaikovsky's 1892 work for St. Petersburg's Maryinsky Theater came into being, then blossomed into a phenomenon once it was absorbed by America, makes lively reading for ballet lovers.

"The Nutcracker is the ballet immigrant who made it big on a lavish scale," she says.

Fisher traces the history of the ballet from birthing pains to George Balanchine's popularization in the 1950s. If you've wondered why Houston Ballet's Sugar Plum Fairy has those fluffy pink balls on her tutu, check out the photo of the 1892 Snowflakes: Their headresses and tutus are covered with what appear to be giant cotton balls.
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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 10:09 am 
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Location: Estonia
Quote:
How 'The Nutcracker' Became an Institution

By NICHOLAS FOX WEBER
The New York Times

"The Nutcracker'' -- the ballet that is a Christmas ritual for Americans of every religion and background -- brought ballet from the exclusive domain of rich aristocracy to the high school auditorium. Jennifer Fisher's fascinating '' 'Nutcracker' Nation'' explores why Tchaikovsky's creation, which had its premiere in 1892 with the imperial ballet in St. Petersburg, has become a perennial favorite. She amplifies what this means in a society in which television is the main vehicle of culture. She has us consider why men fall asleep at ballet even though the ultimate praise for a football player is that his moves are ''balletic.'' ''Nutcracker Nation'' mines the myriad ways that a single artwork can penetrate everyday life and reflect a nation's values.
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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2003 10:10 am 
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Location: Estonia
Originally posted by BBalletFan:

A review from Christine Temin in the Boston Globe:

Quote:
Dancing around a Yule tradition

Nutcracker Nation: How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World
By Jennifer Fisher
Yale University, 230 pp., illustrated, $27

....
It's a book that needed to be written -- but not in the form Fisher offers. She flits around more than the Dew Drop Fairy, touching down on topics from the ballet's possible racist and sexist aspects to versions that include hula and bharata natyam, nods to multiculturalism.

The book is supposedly built around two productions of the ballet: that of the National Ballet of Canada, and the one danced by an amateur group, the Loudoun Ballet in Leesburg, Va. It would have been an interesting comparison had Fisher stuck with it. But the two troupes pop up only occasionally, not enough to make the reader care about them.
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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2003 7:48 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Sugar Plum Daddy
by Emma Chastain for The New Republic

To summon the word "nutcracker," you only have to mention a detail or two: tiptoeing sugar plum fairies, maybe a freakishly large Christmas tree. Like the Super Bowl, the ballet has become a cultural cliché. Most people store a few of its images in the holiday section of their brains.

But while the play traces its roots back to the early nineteenth century novella by E.T.A. Hoffmann, The Nutcracker was almost unknown to Americans until 1954, when George Balanchine choreographed a version for the New York City Ballet. The story told in Balanchine's Nutcracker is a simple one: A little girl, Marie, receives a nutcracker doll from her godfather, Drosselmeier.

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 Post subject: Re: "The Nutcracker" Is Not A Russian Ballet Anymo
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2003 2:06 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
Emma Chastain (and other "G-rated" Nutcracker detractors) seem to forget about one -- perhaps the most -- important feature of this ballet: the music. Balanchine cannot be blamed for cleaning up the story, as Petipa had already done that. Tchaikovsky said he would have preferred working with the original, darker story, but he was a professional, and so produced music to fit Petipa's story. I suppose Ms. Chastain would have choreographers simply ignore the intent of the music.


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