December 13th, 2008


Sugar Plum Dream

So, last night, we went to the Jeoffrey Ballet School's yearly production of The Nutcracker. Ellen had been asked by a guy who's going to review Kleznut and do a phone interview with her on the radio and wanted to meet her, and he had enough comps for me, too. So we both went.

Yes, they were students. Yes, the costumes were somewhat haphazard (except the tutus, which were Very High Quality indeed, with sparkles and those little off-shoulder fringy things that always look so uncomfortable. Oh, and the mouse costumes, which were so cute I almost exploded). It was a bit odd to hear the music done straight, after many years of listening to the Klezmer version. But the whole thing was utterly charming nonetheless.

It doesn't do any harm, from time to time, to see how much work ballet is, how hard it is to come down centered from a spin, to keep from stepping on your costume, to keep from running into the 40 other people leaping across the stage. The little kids were the best, determinedly going through the patterns, some of them with scowls of concentration. The older kids had the frozen smile pretty much down pat, although you could see one or two of the ballerinas hoicking it back up when they noticed it drooping. The ones I felt most for were the guys, who were so very much in the minority that all the "boys" in the party scene were girls in knee britches with their hair hidden in velvet tam o'shanters. The actual guys mostly got to support the girls as they twirled on-pointe, arms shaking, or lift them overhead, hands slipping dangerously from waist to bust. The Snow Queen's King in particular had difficulty with hand placement.

Reading this over, it sounds as if it was terrible and I hated it, but it was actually very good, and I enjoyed it a lot more than the last professional performance I saw at the Boston Ballet. I think it's because every single dancer was incandescent with happiness to be there, all dressed up in hoop skirts or harem pants or little Russian doll outfit, showing off his or her extension and porte-de-bras to an adoring and enthusiastic audience of friends and family. And Clara and the Nutcracker Prince (who both had a lot more to do in this version than she usually does) were truly brilliant dancers it was a pleasure to watch.

Now I'm off to see Kleznut for the first time (with costumes and at normal speed, anyway). Can't wait.