Published Friday, December 30, 2011, 4:21 PM
The Pennsylvania Ballet’s annual production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, featuring the music of Peter Tchaikovsky, really is not the ideal subject matter for a culture writer not particularly knowledgeable about dance to show off how clever and incisive a critic he is capable of being.
Suffice it to say that this year’s production is every bit as outstanding as one would expect. The dancing, music and stage sets are simply beautiful. (One cannot emphasize enough how important the role of Tchaikovsky’s various musical compositions are to the never-ceasing seasonal popularity of The Nutcracker.)
Perhaps most relevant to anyone reading this, given that people might well overlook The Nutcracker after December 25, there are actually two performances of The Nutcracker which remain: tonight (Friday, December 30) at 7 PM and tomorrow (Saturday, December 31) at noon, at the Academy of Music in Center City Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased via this link.
As is hardly atypical for this writer, some random, not-so-much-critiquing-the-actual-performance thoughts crossed the mind of Philadelphia Jewish Culture Examiner when attending. Among those:
– One could, after seeing the touring production of Billy Elliot a few weeks ago in the same venue, appreciate the roles of the male dancers just a bit more.
– For whatever reason, the Philadelphia Boys Choir’s part in the show seemed especially a highlight.
– Act II, when Marie (Mary Lee Deddens) and the Prince/Nutcracker (Christian Lavallie) are basically spectators in the Land of the Sweets, seems a lot like the part of an observant Jewish wedding when the bride and groom sit at a table and guests perform a variety of often-corny stunts and acts to entertain them.
– As with many Christmas productions, don’t go to The Nutcracker expecting to hear anything about the individual whose birthday is supposedly the reason for the holiday.
– The hula-hooping in the second act was particularly fun to watch; the use of the hula-hoop raised the question of whether aspects of the show vary from year to year.
– To this fan of Doctor Zhivago (both movie and book), all the beauty and tradition the show depicts seem to be the embodiment of what the Bolsheviks and their ilk deplored so vehemently. Something to ponder as we move into another year during an era of Occuparasites and in which Western Civilization appears to be on fairly precarious ground…
The next Pennsylvania Ballet production is Pushing Boundaries (“The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude,” “Keep,” “11/11”) from February 9-12.
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