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 Post subject: Moscow Classical Ballet
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2001 9:11 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 369
Location: Los Angeles, CA
"The Nutcracker"<P>Moscow Classical Ballet<P>Pasadena Civic Auditorium, December, 19, 2001<P><BR>The Moscow Classical Ballet delivered a "Nutcracker" full of dance and pageantry but very different from what we’ve come to consider a "traditional" Christmas classic. Dance, not theater, was first and foremost in this version. While many elements are similar to the Americanized versions we’re used to seeing, there were some interesting additions and omissions as well. Gone are the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Instead we see a many headed, hydra-like Mouse King and a Mouse Queen, the journey to the Land of the Sweets becomes a trip down the Pink River, and a Russian Dance performed by Father Christmas and a large Snowman. <P>The Moscow Classical Ballet came to life in 1966 as the Young Ballet, a Soviet State sponsored touring troupe and showcase for young, new talent. And younger talent still seems to be its strength. Many of the leads seemed aloof and uninterested, the most passionate performances coming from its youngest members. Two worth mentioning are Alexei Pryadkin whose Fritz was alive and mischievous, delivering one of the cleanest performances of the evening, and Nikolay Tchevytchelov as Hans demonstrated a remarkable technique. I look forward to seeing both of these performers in the future. <P>From the moment the curtain rises, Drosselmeyer, played by Alexandre Gorokhovik, is everywhere, behind everything that takes place. Gorokhovik’s Drosselmeyer dances far more than we’ve come to expect, but he, to, is aloof and disengaged. He does come alive in Act II performing some of the more memorable dances of the evening.<P>Mary (Clara) and Fritz are played by adults. Ekaterina Berezina is a bit too old for the role of Mary, but her enthusiasm and playful nature go a long way toward making one ignore the age problem. I thought her performance a bit restrained until I learned she was dancing with a pretty nasty toothache and was supposed to have been replaced for the performance. And it took me awhile to recognize the difference in the nature of her performance. She seems to prefer a gentler, more lyric approach, settling quietly into arabesque after her pirouettes rather than the clean, sharp attack I’ve seen so much this year. Both approaches require a great deal of strength and control, hers being an attractive alternative.<P>Act I moves along at a brisk pace. Thankfully, the party scene did not dominate the Act. The transition into Mary’s dream was indeed a magical moment as the dolls danced to life around her. Even though the growing tree was not very inspiring, the sequence proved that story and dance combined go farther than glossy special effects and stage wizardry. The battle between the Mice and the Toy Soldiers was short and not very dramatic, but their take on the Mouse King, making him a multi-headed beast, was unique and interesting. The presence of a Mouse Queen was an unexpected twist as she toys with the Nutcracker Prince, a hint of things to come between them in Act II.<P>My only real disappointment for the evening was Ivan Korneev as the Nutcracker Prince. His Prince is a distant, passionless being who comes across as cold and uncaring. I would have enjoyed him so much more if he’d shown the slightest hint of a personality. Together, Berezina and Korneev make a capable partnership. The pas de deux between Mary and the Prince is an appropriate dance of two new-found lovers and well executed. Berezina makes the most of this partnership.<P>Act II takes us to the Land of the Sweets but not before one last battle between the Prince and the Mouse Queen, who tries to block Mary from entering. The Prince steals her crown and gives it to Mary. While there are the traditional dances we look for, The Spanish, Russian and Arabian dances, there is also a grand waltz commemorating the engagement of Mary and the Prince. <P>Costumes by Nina Mataveeva were very traditional in gold, white and silver, but a bit over the top for some corps members. Her take on the Mice was comical and amusing. Set design by Elizaveta Dvorkina was a bit flat, but this company’s focus was on the dance, not the scenery. <P>The Pasadena Symphony, lead by Pavel Salnikov, brought Tchaikovsky’s score vividly to life.<P>It’s always interesting to see how other people view news and events, so I found it a particularly unique opportunity to see how different nationalities view the same story. The American version of the "Nutcracker" seems to have become watered down over time. The version presented by the Moscow Classical Ballet is less a childrens story, more a fantasy brought to life on stage. <P>It’s too bad the ABT is pulling audiences to Hollywood and not to Pasadena, where the Moscow Classical Ballet proves special effects and stage tricks do not a ballet make. Though this was perhaps a lackluster performance, it reminds you that ballet is dance first and foremost. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Moscow Classical Ballet
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2001 9:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Thank you, Two Left Feet, for this critique. I don't remember ever having seen a version of Nutcracker with a Mouse Queen. <P>Interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Moscow Classical Ballet
PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2001 12:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 369
Location: Los Angeles, CA
It was funny, in a way. I think they pulled an old costume out of storage or something. She looked more like a dancing "Kiss if the Spider Woman" than anything else. She had this odd kind of webbing thingy under her arms that attatched to her back. If the program hadn't called her the Mouse Queen, I would have thought her a spider queen.


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 Post subject: Re: Moscow Classical Ballet
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2001 5:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 457
Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Aha. I finally thought of what Moscow Classical Ballet's Mouse Queen reminded me of... Catwoman. Or, was it Batgirl? ... well, some sort of 60's sex kitten in a mod-ish full leather outfit. Forget about Galina Ulanova or Yketerina Maximova .. MCB's obviously got Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt on the mind.<P>I missed this production this year, but I can't forget their Batgirl. What do you think they'd do with a revival of "The Cage" ?


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