I love ballet and my favorite ballet is The Nutcracker. I listen to the music year round and I am always excited when Christmas arrives because it means that I’ll get to see The Nutcracker in person! This year we attended a touring production, the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, and were dazzled by the show’s beautiful choreography, talented dancers and gorgeous sets.
I have always had a passion for Russian design and the Russian style of ballet. I enjoyed this performance immensely because it fused elements of each of those things into the story of the beloved Nutcracker.
The sets were lavish and truly transported the audience to other realms. All the costumes were striking. The mouse costumes were oily and scary, especially the Mouse King, they were perfect in their execution. The dresses worn by the ladies and girls at the Christmas party, Masha’s costumes and many of the other beautiful tutus & dresses were sigh inducing in their loveliness. The costumes for the many dolls and inhabitants of the Land of Peace & Harmony were illustrative of their various origins. And the animal costumes and puppets were so cute and fun!
The Great Russian Nutcracker wasn’t just pretty to look at. The choreography and the performances by the dancers were also stunning. While all the dancers gave a great a performance some excelled beyond even the high standard set by the company. Rafael Urazov as both the Harlequinn Doll and the Chinese Variation male dancer, was athletic in his jumps and tumbling and a joy to watch. Ekaterina Bortiakova was an exuberant Masha and emanated a seamless blend of youthfulness in character and maturity in dance. Elena Petrichenko and Sergey Chumakov were elegant and breathtaking as the Dove of Peace.
The biggest surprise for me was how much I loved the dancers in the Arabian Variation. I normally do not like that piece of music and find most companies choreography to be overly salacious. In the Great Russian Nutcracker the Arabian Variation dancers were so deft in executing a blend of dance and acrobatic ability that I absolutely adored them! The lifts and poses that were performed so aptly and (seemingly) effortlessly, that I was stunned.
I can’t wait to enjoy listening to selections from The Nutcracker this holiday season. There won’t just be visions of sugarplums dancing in my head on Christmas Eve, rather they will be joined by all the talented dancers and beautiful artistry of the Great Russian Nutcracker.
Kari Liked: Everything! The costumes, scenery, the dancers- especially Masha, the Dove of Peace and Arabian Variation dancers
Kari Didn’t Like: That I will have to wait a whole year to see it again!
Every year, Kari and I try to see a presentation of The Nutcracker. This year we saw something completely different in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. While Tchaikovsky’s score remains the backbone, they change several details that make for a very intriguing show.
In the first act, much remains the same. Uncle Drosselmeyer comes to a party and gives his favorite child, Masha, a toy nutcracker, which is quickly broken by another jealous child, Fritz. He also brings along two human sized dolls that dance for everyone. This dance was done very well. In this version, Drosselmeyer is also much less creepy, and is shown to be a fantastic toy maker. When the mice show up towards the end of the first act, they and their King are marvelously presented. They have had great costumes that helped their characterization greatly. The choreography for them was also very helpful to the mood of the character. Usually the mice are almost cute, but here they are really gross.
Into the second act is where a lot of the changes take place. The biggest being that the Sugar Plum Fairy has been removed entirely to create dancing numbers for Masha and the Nutcracker Prince. I thought this made much more sense. The second act also contains some wonderful dancing especially the Arabian Variation and the Russian Variation. The Russian Variation expertly blends in Russian folk dance into the ballet. The Arabian Variation takes a dance that is normally over sexualized and instead turns in into an incredible display of practically inhuman gymnastics. The Moscow Ballet took a number that is usually one I hate and turned it into my favorite.
The technical elements of this show were just stunning. They used many more backgrounds than you normally see in a production of the Nutcracker and that was really neat to see. The costumes were all ornate and gorgeous. They even had puppets! This production was amazing and we’re going to try and see it every year from now on!
RJ Liked: Everything
RJ Didn’t Like: Can’t think of anything
( We were provided with two complimentary media tickets for this performance. However all opinions are our own.)