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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Nutcracker

Just a quick note about the build-up to Christmas.

By now the Collegium is pretty deserted, and since I don't want to push Ted too hard and bring him in, I've been spending a lot of the days at the Towers.  As you might imagine, it's really easy to get cabin fever in that environment, so I've been especially glad about how hospitable the staff has been here: for the last two days they've had afternoon glögi and homemade cookies!  I'm also glad that I booked tickets to the Finnish National Ballet's production of The Nutcracker ages ago.

Believe it or not, even though I know the story well, I'd never actually seen a production, so I figured the National Ballet here would be a good introduction.  (Sorry to say, but after having suffered through the Columbia Ballet's version of Frankenstein, I've decided that I'm happy being a ballet snob.)  So I got a couple of tickets right in the center of the Opera House--the ballet and opera share it here--and Maria and I went for drinks and The Nutcracker.

Wow, was it fabulous!

Now I'm not a big-time dance person.  While I'm always extraordinarily impressed at what good dancers can make their bodies do, it just doesn't usually hit me in the way that things I have more personal experience with do.  With that in mind, though, I could really appreciate how amazing some of the things they were doing were, and I LOVED the way the dancers made their movements fit their characters.  (I know it's choreography, but it was also something else that was so impressive about the quality of the dancers.)  I also hadn't realized how divided the ballet was; here at least the first half was really all about the story and characterization, while the second half seemed like a bunch of amazing set pieces.  I could really imagine how bad the second half could be if you didn't have dancers who were as accomplished as the extraordinary ones they had here!

That being said, what blew me away were the costumes and staging.  I particularly loved the Mouse King.


All the eyes of the mice glowed, which really added to the whole effect.  Besides, as is usual, I always end up rooting for the bad guys in these productions.

At the end I came out ready for the holidays, and I even managed to go home without slipping on the (slightly) icy sidewalks.  (They're much more icy now and will probably be so through Christmas.)

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