often overlook the Russianness of one of our most beloved Christmas
traditions. It is Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, after all. Almost one hundred twenty years ago, to the
day, The Nutcracker premiered at the
Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg (known as the Kirov during darker Soviet
days). At the time, reviews were rather
mixed, but it caught on eventually. The
Mariinsky Theatre Ballet Company and the Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra,
under the direction of Valery Gergiev, once again perform the holiday favorite
where it all began. The Sugar Plum Fairy
will indeed dance when The Nutcracker screens
in 3D nationwide, for one day and one day only, this coming Monday, via Fathom Events (trailer
everyone should know, young Masha’s eccentric godfather, Councilor Drosselmeyer,
brings some remarkable toys to her family’s Christmas Eve festivities. However, only she has eyes for his wooden Nutcracker. Waking just before midnight, Masha witnesses
an epic clash between the Mouse King’s rodent army and the gingerbread soldiers
led by the Nutcracker. Thanks to her
intervention, the Nutcracker prevails.
Shortly thereafter, they are transformed into fully grown lead dancers
and whisked off to a fantasy land. Much
for the screen by Andreas Morrell, the Mariinsky Nutcracker does not skimp on pageantry. The sets and costumes are as lavish and elegant
as viewers would expect, except the mice soldiers, who are deliberately
cartoony enough not to upset even the most sensitive of young viewers. Of course, the dancers are world class,
particularly the striking Alina Somova as Princess Masha. Evidently though, Mariinsky patrons are tough
audience. They do not show much love
until the principles reach the Land of Sweets.
That must be a Russian thing.
Vasily Vainonen’s acclaimed choreography, the Mariinsky Nutcracker should satisfy experienced ballet connoisseurs and
first-time viewers. While only available
in 2D for review attention, it should lend itself quite nicely to 3D, especially
the whirling dances in the Land of Sweets, performed in long, flowing exotic
garb. Indeed, Wim Wenders’ Pina proved the utility of 3D cinematography
in conveying the spatial dynamics of dance.
There is a reason The Nutcracker has become a Christmas tradition. Tchaikovsky’s music and the fantastically
bittersweet story, sort of adapted from E.T.A. Hoffman’s story, just always
seem to work. With dancers of the
Mariinsky’s caliber performing in such a storied venue, it can’t miss. Recommended for festive families and the
cultured elite alike, the Mariinsky’s Nutcracker
screens twice this coming Monday (12/3) at theaters throughout the country,
including the AMC Empire and Regal Union Square here in New York.
Labels: Ballet, Dance on film, Fathom Events, Nutcracker, Valery Gergiev