Monday, 24 December 2012

The Nutcracker; a New York rite of passage

The Nutcracker is a huge Christmas tradition in New York; everybody seems to go, and it is as much as a rite of passage to take your kids for the first time as it is to take them to Disneyworld for a long weekend (de rigeur when they reach the age of about five).  We decided that for what will probably be our last Christmas here, we should splurge and see the most famous production of all, the George Balanchine-choreographed version, performed by New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center.

So we headed into Manhattan last night, The Doctor and Littleboy 1 bright and bouncy, myself (dosed up with painkillers) and Littleboy 2 (who had come down with a cold and temperature in the morning) slightly less bright and bouncy. Ten minutes into the opening act, Littleboy 2 fell asleep and remained so until the interval - a bit of a shame when you've spent hundreds of dollars on the trip, but at least he saw Act 2.

I've never seen The Nutcracker before, although of course the Tchaikovsky score is incredibly well-known- the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Waltz of the Flowers etc. By chance we had found the story the night before in a book of Christmas stories and read it to the boys, so we were all familiar with the story.

What I hadn't appreciated was the enchanting aspect of the first Act - that it features lots of tiny children, dancing quite beautifully. Littleboy 1 was fascinated by seeing the children on stage performing, and was thrilled by the huge Christmas tree (the set, and production values, were incredibly impressive). I was just amazed that a girl who appeared to be about six could dance on pointes (although I shudder to think of what she's doing to her feet for later life), and impressed by the boy dancing Fritz, the brother, who also appeared to be very young. The idea of the Nutrcracker coming alive and transforming into a handsome prince is going to be one that appeals to all children, and Littleboy 1 was no exception.

The second Act is all about costumes, and scenery and balletic set-pieces - the boys were less fascinated by that, although the adults could indulge in enjoying all of the above. From the deep purple tutus of the flowers to the striped candy canes, I don't think I've ever seen such magnificent costumes on a stage - New York sure does know how to do things well.

I believe The Nutcracker is becoming more popular in the UK these days - maybe as a result of all the Americans in London? - and I don't know if those productions are any good. But for anyone visiting NYC at Christmas with children, I would say the Lincoln Center show is well worth the rather extortionate price.

As for us, by the time we took the train back and rolled up at home at 8.30PM, with two boys almost asleep, and one definitely running a fever, we were all exhausted. But I was pleased to see that Littleboy 1(who is incredibly excited about Christmas) wanted The Nutcracker again for his bedtime story. Some of the magic had definitely rubbed off.

Merry Christmas to everyone.


Paradise Lost In Translation said...

It's pretty popular here in the UK it seems to me. I hear lots of friends going to see a production, tho in Eastern Europe it was hugely popular! Happy Christmas NVG. All the best for 2013. xx

Iota said...

Merry Christmas to you.

I saw Nutcracker 3 or 4 times when we were in America. The first time, I only vaguely knew the story, and so was genuinely surprised by Mother Ginger, and her big skirt. A friend of mind could hardly believe that I hadn't known what was coming. It was rather fun to see it for the first time, almost like being a child.

Julie said...

Shame on me, I have never seen it, going to try and put that right this holiday.

Tanya (Bump2Basics said...

Merry Christmas to you and the family. Is it still snowing out there?

I actually saw The Nutcracker compliments of school, a total treat. It is a performance that stays with me still, it really made an impression.

Knackered Mother said...

This sounded so utterly heavenly, would love to do that one year. I'm already hoping that Youngest Girl might love the idea, not that I'll force her to (yeah, right). So sorry to read you haven't been too good, sending you a big hug and a virtual Moscow Mule x

MsCaroline said...

I have never been to an ultra-professional production of 'Nutcracker' - seems like I am always looped in to going to see the local productions because I have a friend's child or a student dancing in it. It's always a delight, but I would nonetheless like to someday attend a really professional performance. Lovely memories for the boys...
So sorry to hear that you're still on the painkillers. It seems like 2012- at least the last few months of it - has been pretty rough in Nappy Valley. Sending my very best positive vibes and healing wishes to you for a wonderful 2013. xx

Nota Bene said...

Glad you and the Boys, big and small enjoyed it. When you return to Blighty, try and see the Matthew Bourne version which will blow your socks off!

Happy New Year!

Muddling Along said...

Happy new year!

I'm glad they loved it - the girls have been watching the Nutcracker in 20 minute segments as their bedtime TV and it has been magical (although the rats in our are v scary)