Why not take a break from politics and world angst? You’ve got a good excuse, because it’s that time of year again—“Nutcracker” time, that is.
Especially if you live anywhere near New York City, where the New York City Ballet has danced its 2000th performance of (excuse the pun) the old chestnut. If you have little children, especially girls, there is hardly a greater holiday treat than to take them to a performance (dressed in holiday finery, of course) and watch their faces light up.
At least, that was true for this little girl, who was enchanted by the ballet back when the troupe had danced only a couple of hundred performances, and when Balanchine himself took to the stage as an especially spooky Herr Drosselmeier. Even as a child I appreciated choreography and stage business, as well as scenery, and “Nutcracker” was loaded with more than its share.
I know, I know—corny, sentimental tripe, you say. But just the music alone is worth the price of admission. Yes, it’s been done to death, especially as the excerpted “Nutcracker Suite” (which is often misunderstood as “Nutcracker Sweet”). And it can be cloying if not performed well, but the New York City Ballet always performs it well, and regional companies usually make up in enthusiasm what they lack in technique.
It’s the children on stage as well as the children in the audience; their excitement at being part of the magic of a real performance is contagious. So swallow your cynicism, stifle your yawns, click here and watch some of the festivities (taking in an all-too-brief sample of the celestial music that accompanies the Grand Pas de Deux) and then take a child to the Nutcracker. Tell them neo sent you.