CriticalDance Forum

Why Nutcracker - mania?
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Author:  Matthew [ Wed Nov 13, 2002 6:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Why Nutcracker - mania?

I am fascinated on why the Nutcracker is such a popular ballet for so many ballet companies. I think that for PNB it is one of there most important economic engines, and I suspect it can be make or break time for many companies.
My suspicion is that it crosses that line where the average person can go to the ballet without needing to worry about going to something "hoity - toity . It is something that anyone can see and enjoy. At my work, although i chat about ballet often, no one is really that interested, but come Christmas, EVERYONE is a nutcracker nut ( hence the staff christmas nutcracker outing ). Evveryone is really excited. I mean, the music is very good, the story is pretty good, the choreography quite good, but I wouldn't necessarily call it the best ballet ever written or performed. So why is it such a huge success? Is it as simple as children and christmas? Any thoughts - because it could give insight into how other ballets ( modern and classical ) can reach such a wide audience.

Author:  citibob [ Wed Nov 13, 2002 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

The popularity of the Nutcracker in America goes back to Balanchine's NYCB Nutcracker in the early 1950's. He made a decision at the time to cast children in the childrens' roles.

I really think it is so popular pretty much because of children and Christmas.

Author:  djb [ Wed Nov 13, 2002 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

A small part of it might be that just about everyone has heard at least certain parts of the music, over and over, in ads and in stores at Christmas, since their childhood.

Author:  citibob [ Wed Nov 13, 2002 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

I've been told that "Waltz of the Flowers" is the most-requested piece of classical music on radio stations.

Author:  Lucy [ Wed Nov 13, 2002 9:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

After a day of Holiday shopping I don't know if I am exausted from the shopping or from how many times I have repeated the Waltz of the Flowers and the Sugar Plum variation in my head. I have been known to answer a sales clerk with the counts of the particular dance that was playing instead of "charge it". This ballet brings me so many happy memories, but it does have this Pavlovian effect on me. Too make matters worse my husband is a new ballet lover and guess what is played in our house from Dec.1st to the 30th?

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Nov 13, 2002 9:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

<font size=-2>The Dancing Bear and Doll in
Lew Christensen's 1954 production of Nutcracker
Photo courtesy of PALM and SFB</font size>

Here's a short history, from the SFB web site:

Nutcracker History

While Nutcracker is synonymous with Christmas, the first complete production in America was performed in 1944 by San Francisco Ballet.
<a href= target=_blank>More</a>

Author:  Dave [ Fri Nov 15, 2002 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

I think there's definitely truth in what some of you say about its being a non-threatening introduction to ballet. I describe it as "Ballet 101." The story is appealing and easy to follow, the sets are beautiful, the music is both fabulous and familiar, and it has kids in it. What's not to like?

For me, and I think for a lot of people, the Nutcracker production in their home city becomes a family holiday tradition. My grandmother first took me to PNB's Nutcracker in 1981, when I was 14 -- two years before the renowned Stowell/Sendak production premiered -- and we attended it together every year until she passed away in 1991. I have taken my mom every year since then.

In the meantime, I discovered in college that most women (with the possible exception of some dancers, who never want to see it again) love to go to the Nutcracker, so I have actually seen it at least twice a year (once with Mom and once with a date) since the late '80's.

I've also organized a group Nutcracker evening for my fellow schoolteachers for each of the last three years, and many of the same folks and their kids have attended each year. That means I've seen it THREE times annually for the last three years. Still, it never seems to lose its magic for me. I still get a tingle up my spine when the orchestra first begins the Overture, and from time to time I even notice things onstage that I've never seen before. And of course, for the last few years I've had the thrill of seeing many of my former Dorm students dancing in it, which makes it even more fun. I look forward to having kids of my own someday so I can keep the tradition going.

<small>[ 11-15-2002, 13:57: Message edited by: Dave ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Fri Nov 15, 2002 1:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

I think there are lots of people in the audience for whom it's simply a holiday tradition and has nothing to do with loving ballet. When I was at a Bolshoi performance recently, I heard a women telling another that she was such a ballet lover (this was the first time she'd ever seen Swan Lake). She said her family used to see Nutcracker every year, but she hasn't seen it in a several years because now they go to see Scrooge instead.

Author:  Matthew [ Fri Nov 15, 2002 3:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

This year I am doing something a little different and i will be seeing the Olympia Ballet's Nutcracker instead of PNBs. My coworkers all wanted to go as a christmas present and I could quite swing 24 PNB tickets :eek: , but I am hoping that it will still be very good.
Out of the 24 staff going, I think that this is about 14 or 15s" first ballet.
You know, I think that it is just the whole feel of christmas. HOHOHO

Author:  Lucy [ Fri Nov 15, 2002 4:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

Last year we saw SF Ballets production so this year my husband and I will go see a local school production of the Nutcracker that Keith Martin puts on. I feel that is important to go support the little companies as well as the major ones. You never know when you will see a star in the making.

Author:  Basheva [ Fri Nov 15, 2002 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

Is Keith Martin in the SF area now? How is he doing? and his wife Barbara? I remember being in class with him for a number of years at San Diego Ballet when he danced here and was also artistic director - if this is the same Keith Martin who was originally from the Royal Ballet.

As for Nutcracker and its appeal, I think it's all the above (what everyone else said), but also it's one of those ballets one can relate to. It's hard for a non-ballet audience member to relate initially to a Swan Queen, or a Giselle in a Germanic village/wili in a cemetary, or Bayaderes and Shades and few of us have ever really imagined ourselves as an Aurora/Sleeping Beauty.

But Nutcracker comes a bit closer to home. The party, guests, presents, a favorite toy, strange uncles :) , a tree, a dream which is partly frightening-partly pleasant, the way dreams often are.

It goes with the season.

Author:  Lucy [ Fri Nov 15, 2002 9:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

Basheva, I am pretty sure that he is the same dancer and teacher. I look forward to his production.

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Nov 16, 2002 1:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

I am not going to any Nutcrackers this year!!!!!!!!!!

Author:  djb [ Sat Nov 16, 2002 2:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

Going to see Scrooge, eh?

Author:  Matthew [ Sat Nov 16, 2002 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Why Nutcracker - mania?

Why no nutcrackers this year Azlan?

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