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Emily Kate Long, September 2012

Oh, Nutcracker. Few things in ballet are as adored, as abhorred, as pervasive, as cherished, or as misunderstood. Nutcrackers are often deplored for their lack of plot cohesion…and lack of originality. Dutch National Ballet’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is above reproach on both counts. It is a real story ballet that can stand on its own without needing the Christmas season as an excuse to exist.

This film version was produced in 2011 from a live recording that same year. The stage production premiered in 1996, with choreography by Toer Van Schayk and Wayne Eagling that is tastefully classical while still being excitingly athletic.

Van Schayk and Eagling depart considerably from the traditional Nutcracker story, always for the better. The Party Scene includes some delightfully magical stage effects: a slide projector, a mechanical cat, and a walking Nutcracker doll, all of which appear in huge scale later in the ballet. The dances flow seamlessly as natural elements of the plot and provide a great deal of foreshadowing. The shapes of the choreography are pleasantly surprising, and the crispness of the Dutch style is evident in the dancing of children and adults alike. That crispness carries over to all of the mime sequences, making an already-sensible plot even easier to follow.

The Waltz of the Flowers features a beautiful motif of fouettes to arabesque, a nod to one of classical ballet’s most iconic shapes, and Tsyganovka’s variation in the Grand Pas de Deux is immaculate…the plot is supported by fine costuming details… © 2012 Read complete review

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