I went to see the famous New York City Ballet Nutcracker last night. I’ve seen this show once before, back in 2007, and I left feeling unsatisfied then and I did again yesterday.
It’s not that the show isn’t worth seeing – it’s a great spectacle – but there are some major flaws when compared to the Nutcracker as generally performed by European ballet companies.
In short, the problem for me is that I go to the ballet to enjoy the music and dance, to see some fantastic dancers, great choreography and incredible live music. But the Balanchine Nutcracker is essentially a Christmas show for children that skips over major plot points within the ‘Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ story leaving it as essentially a disjointed series of skits – nice to look at, but not very satisfying if you came to the theatre expecting to see some ballet.
Of course there is some dancing, for example the pas de deux in the second act just before the apotheosis, but this dance is usually enjoyed by Clara and the Nutcracker. In the New York version a couple takes the dance with no explanation as to who they are.
The Royal Ballet in London use the 1984 Peter Wright version of the Nutcracker choreography, but Wright himself drew heavily on the much earlier staging from London, which had in turn come directly from the Imperial Russian Ballet.
In short, the role of Drosselmeyer is explained, the family connection to the Nutcracker is explained, the main characters actually dance – they are not cast as children who just watch the other dancers perform. It’s a proper ballet with a wonderful score and there is even an epilogue drawing the various threads of the story together.
The NYCB production is a nice little Christmas show and they must make an absolute fortune staging it every December – it has been produced in this format for almost 50 years now. But if you are a ballet fan and expect to be watching some great dance then it might be wise to save your cash for another show – there are Broadway shows with more dance than this.
Photo by Pat McDonald licensed under Creative Commons
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged balanchine, ballet, dance, drosselmeyer, europe, london, new york, new york city ballet, nutcracker, nycb, peter wright, royal ballet, russia, sadlers wells, uk, USA
I saw this BBC report on French protests about the retirement age being raised to 62. Of course, the typical French disdain for England is annoying – the same old stereotypes being dredged up by French protestors.
But the real point applies to France and England – and most of Western Europe equally – who is going to be paying the state pension by the time I ‘retire’? I personally think that the concept of the third age, rather than a retirement, will have become normal by the time I am 65.
By third age, I mean it will be normal to enter into a new career, to use your life experience working with a charity, or working on the local council… doing something useful that is still work and probably still pays something – though far less than you would have earned during your main career. But by that time most of us won’t have a need to support kids or a mortgage anymore, so income requirements should be more modest anyway.
What I don’t expect is that I can hit the age of 65 and suddenly put my feet up and retire from work, to live out the next 20 years on the golf course.
In Britain, it’s the present taxpayers who pay the state pension through their tax. The older people claiming pensions will suggest that they have paid into their NI pot and now they are just claiming it back, but there is no bank account they are paying into, it’s the young workers paying their pension. The stakeholder pension was the first step towards trying to shift people to a sense of personal responsibility for their old age, but I’m not sure I have met anyone who actually has a stakeholder pension.
Perhaps it sounds too harsh and ‘Anglo-Saxon’ to suggest that personal responsibility needs to make a return – rather than a blind reliance on the state, but European demographics are not favourable. There will be far more old people as I age and fewer young workers paying income tax. Immigration would be the only real solution and yet that’s not something most politicians are welcoming either…
If you are ‘retiring’ 20 or 30 years from now then don’t look to the state to pay for your every need. Or if you think that’s an unreasonable assumption to make, then get out on the street and throw a few bricks – like the French.
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Tagged anglo-saxon, BBC, britain, england, EU, europe, france, french, national insurance, pension, protest, retirement, sarkozy, state
It’s the European and local council elections here in the UK today. I just went down to the polling station just before 9pm to vote. I’ve had a busy day that started with a 7.30am meeting and I haven’t managed to vote until now. Fortunately, you can vote at anytime up to 10pm.
I was smiling as I walked in to the polling station tonight because I was listening to the ‘Thinking Allowed’ podcast on my iPod. It’s a Radio 4 show about sociology that I really enjoy. It covers all kinds of topics related to society in general and is well worth trying… but this week they were talking about the nature of elections and the apathy of most voters. It made me grin anyway as I was listening to this debate walking up the steps to the polling station, voting card in hand…