Friday, October 29, 2010

The Nutcracker

I just went to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet's latest production of The Nutcracker. I last went to the ballet when I was about ten years old. It was Peter Pan. I hated it. I remember turning to my Mum (who'd taken my sister and I) and saying, 'Aren't they even going to sing?' (I'd been taken to a sung-through musical for my 8th birthday, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, during which I turned to my Nana and said, 'Don't they talk? Do they just sing?').

A couple of weeks ago I saw the poster for this production of The Nutcracker while walking to work one morning. I decided I'd like to give the ballet a second chance, especially with The Nutcracker as we used to have a record of the music and I liked dancing around to it when I was younger (not too enthusiastically though because the record would jump, this was the same with the Abba record, and if Abba ever came to town I would so be there). I bought a ticket for me and my step-sister for her 15th birthday, because she does every kind of dancing under the sun, including ballet so I thought she'd like it.

It was really good.

But I just don't think ballet is my cup of tea. I liked hearing the familiar music again, the costumes were great, the set was very stylised and strong, but I just got bored. And it wasn't even very long. I mean, there's only so many moves they can do, right? I thought maybe it was the no talking thing, but I went to a much longer show with no talking (The Sound of Silence in the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts) earlier this year and I loved it, so I don't think it's that. I think it's the over-the-top-ness of it. The show I saw with no talking worked because there was this dreamlike quality and the music did a lot of the talking and I got caught up in the detail of the movements and the relationships and the story (even though it wasn't entirely coherent), so there was no need for talking. In ballet it's like they want to talk or sing but they can't, so they do these giant gestures to indicate someone's getting told off or someone's grumpy; the naughty child does a whole lot of broad cliched naughty child movements, the matron bustles about and hitches up her boobs. I guess The Nutcracker, well this version anyway, is more of a pantomime than Swan Lake or something so maybe that's why.

Anyway. Me and ballet. I don't think we'll be seeing each other all that regularly. Maybe in another thirteen years.

(If you do like ballet though, I'm sure you'll love this production of The Nutcracker. The costumes and set really are awesome and the music is fun and pretty, and, from what my step-sister told me, the dancers are really good as well. At one point she said, 'Woah, he just caught her by her bended leg' and I said, 'Is that a bad thing?' and she said, 'No, it's amazing!')

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