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Movie Title: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
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“The star of this company has always been choreography”–Peter Martins
Peter Martins, Artistic Director of the Modern York City Ballet (NYCB), makes an friendly point, and this is one of the most compelling reasons to give serious consideration to this particular version of “The Nutcracker.” George Balanchine’s choreography is commendable for its musicalness. He customary to say, “The music comes first,” and this ballet features an outstanding musical collect by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. This video is not honest a dance film, but also a feature film that played in theaters. Movie star Macaulay Culkin plays the Nutcracker. He was formerly a student at the School of American Ballet (SAB) . Other children from SAB also dance in this production, including Jessica Lynn Cohen as Marie. The considerable dancers are Darci Kistler as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Damian Woetzel as her Cavalier, Kyra Nichols as Dewdrop, and Wendy Whelan as Coffee–these talented NYCB artists bring out the expert detail of Balanchine’s choreography.
This production was taped in a studio setting, not during a live performance. Consequently, there was spacious opportunity for multiple outtakes until they got everything objective how they wanted it. There are no bobbles, runt mistakes or slips on the stage by the dancers. The same is legal for the orchestra, and they play with finesse. The dancing is not only marvelous technically, but also theatrically. (It is my general impression that dancers build more emphasis on their facial expressions in feature films than in live performances, and this video is no exception.) There is another thing about this title that makes it special: it is a delicate all-around production. There are nice costumes and scenery. There are some expert comedic touches here, not corny stuff like the dancing chickens that are found in another eminent ballet. The camera angles are well idea out, and there are also some very effective video special effects broken-down, such as uninteresting motion. A libretto is provided in the acquire of narration. Overall, this is a high quality production.
There is a comprehensive analysis of this title in Robert Greskovic’s book, “Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning & Loving the Ballet.” He writes, Balanchine’s Nutcracker “records the American production that was probably more responsible than any other for giving rise to the nationwide popularity the ballet possesses in the United Sates in the twentieth century. This is the production devised by Balanchine in 1954, recalling the staging he was brought up with when he was a young student and dancer in St. Petersburg (1915-1924) .” (p. 254) Greskovic’s edifying book is also for sale at Amazon.com.
There are many different commercial versions of this ballet available, and this is one of the best to determine from. Some have a Sugar Plum Fairy, and some don’t. In those that don’t, Sugar Plum’s parts are acquired by Marie, who is usually noteworthy older in age. Although Darci Kistler and Damian Woetzel’s performance in the colossal pas de deux is delectable, I personally buy the versions where Marie and the Nutcracker Prince dance the section together instead, because it seems more natural to me that the two main characters dance the musical climax. Unfortunately, the productions that omit Sugar Plum often do not include children in them, and I accept that the early numbers in act one work better with right children, rather than adults posing as children. So, it’s usually a tradeoff. I particularly be pleased the NYCB corps routines to “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and “Waltz of the Flowers”–featuring Balanchine’s outstanding choreography. Many young dancers from SAB appear in this film, and that makes it glowing to young children. This is an superior production for the entire family to devour together….
All things considered, I have to say that this is quite an exquisite theatrical presentation of Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.” Looking at “the note” itself, its most rave-worthy characteristic is how well the team of Peter Martins (ballet master), Emile Ardolino (director) and Ralf Bode (cinematographer) collaborated to actually “choreograph the camera” to the movements of the performers. Thanks to a talented movie crew and an unbelievable amount of consideration given to viewing angles (read the description in the disc’s “special features”), the TV always seemed to be showing exactly what I wanted to inspect at on the stage. Add in some nice work by Industrial Light & Magic, decent narration, and a well-behaved production team, and the result is a safe presentation.
From a performance standpoint, I’d give this an A-minus mainly because the versions of “The Nutcracker” I’ve seen most often cast the Nutcracker Prince in a great more active role dancewise. Calm, everyone else did a extraordinary job. Mighty were the Pas de Deux by the Cavalier (Damian Woetzel) and Sugarplum Fairy (Darci Kistler), and the remarkable dance presence of Coffee (Wendy Whelan) . The other “Sweets” performed very well also. So long as you try not to narrate Macaulay Culkin as a ballet dancer, you’ll be okay. Let’s face it: you can’t interrogate the shrimp guy to measure up next to the NYC Ballet, but he is there to add a minute star appeal and possibly sell ballet to your kids (which may not be a abominable opinion) . Nuff said. By the device, the younger performers from the School of American Ballet were fantastic.
Regarding disc features, the DVD has some icy stuff to offer: two viewing formats, 30-scene index, and some estimable production notes regarding the history of the reveal, camera choreography and description of ILM’s special effects.
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