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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballets: The Nutcracker


Guest xoxdancecutiexox

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A lot has to do with whether your libretto is drawn from the Hoffman original story, where Clara is the name of the heroine, or the Dumas retelling of it, where Marie is the name. In the Hoffman, Clara has an older sister, Marianne. In Russian productions, Marie becomes Masha.

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The only other ones I can think of would be for Fritz.

I think that it's usually Clara, Marie, or Maria.

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haven't rechecked but some source i vaguely recall reading, noted that clara was the name of one of marie's dolls.

if mem. serves i got this notion from jack anderson's NUTCRACKER study.

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I believe you are correct, rg, that in E.T.A. Hoffman's original tale, Clara was the name of one of Marie's dolls. I have no idea why it was usurped, but that would make for an interesting conversation, no?

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I wish I could be surer of that, but NYCB didn't help matters when they floated a lot of what was later shown to be disinformation which justified the changes they made in their production, which is still the current one. The one about Clara being the doll was one of the things, and I can't remember my Hoffman verbatim to recall if that's so or not. Washington Ballet in Mary Day's staging, interestingly, kept the blocking for the older sister, Marianne, but renamed the part "the favorite aunt".

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I also read that Clara was one of Marie's dolls. But also, I have no clue if I went to find an English translation of the original or if it was from another source. What I do remember though, was that the Nutcracker Libretto as we pretty much know it now, is just a tiny bit of the original tale. It was such a convoluted (and frightening) story -- that much I do remember.

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Yes, and remember, Hoffman was writing at about the same time Mary Shelley was writing Frankenstein. They both fall into the Gothic school of Romantic literature.

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Guest xoxdancecutiexox
A lot has to do with whether your libretto is drawn from the Hoffman original story, where Clara is the name of the heroine, or the Dumas retelling of it, where Marie is the name. In the Hoffman, Clara has an older sister, Marianne. In Russian productions, Marie becomes Masha.

 

I have heard that in Russian Productions of The Nutcracker Clara has an older sister also. But the older sister's name was Louisa.

 

-Katya

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  • 1 month later...

Certain Nuts also have certain themes that may alter the naming of Clara/Marie. (Let's just call her "That Girl," okay? :wub: ) For example, our Nutcracker has an Olivia, due to a thematic setting that necessitates such a name. There's also a tap Nutcracker by the title of Claire's Dream, so there's a variant on Clara. It all depends, I suppose, on what the Nut is like.

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  • 4 months later...

Okay Mel...guru of information!

 

If this is has been asked and answered, I'm obviously way too tired and haven't been able to locate the information. Dau and I got into a discussion tonight while at a Don Q. performance about Nutcracker roles.

 

Everyone knows Sugar Plum is the top role in Nutcracker. Some say Snow Queen is next, others say Rose. After that it's up for grabs. Is there a "non-official" list of Nutcracker roles by importance.

 

Dau was saying that Russian is a demi solo which ranks higher than Merliton but lower than Chinese. I just LOVE these type of discussions with a teenager. :wink:

 

We just wrapped Giselle last weekend and before we had even started the performances, dau was already attempting to figure out what roles she might have in Nutcracker....even though she has another performance even before Nutcracker auditions. Gotta love your serious teenage dancer!

 

Thanks in advance!

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Mel Johnson

In what version? Many have no Sugar Plum Fairy. The Snow Queen is only tossed in to use up music for a full stage transition when you don't have the machinery to pull off the stage magic. It's also included as a sort of memorial to Pavlova, who used to tour with it in American Vaudeville. Russians are sometimes a soloist and a students' corps. Sometimes it has no soloist. Sometimes the mirlitons are a soloist and a quadrille from the corps, sometimes it's a group of coryphées. In one version I recall, the Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty somehow made it as a guest. In VERY traditional Classical structure, the one who does the grand pas de deux is the ballerina role, the next most important is the first soloist in the divertissement. Then back to the soloist at the center of the divertissement. Protocol and "stage weight" from the viewers' standpoint (well, here "sitpoint" might be the more appropriate term) are determined from the order in which the principals dance.

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in the charming version with the salzburg marionettes (which i only recently realized was released on videocassette) the 'swan' (saint-saens) and the pastoral from PIQUE DAME are among the act 2 divertissements.

definitely depends on the staging in question.

plus things change: NYCB watchers have commented among other observations how over the years the 'ballerina rank' of the 'marzipan/merliton' divert has been lowered, so that the dance for a lead female dancer and 4 'framing' women (all on pointe) is no longer cast 'up' to the degree it once was. but these are individual details; mel has given a sense of the big picture and big dilemma.

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Mel Johnson

Then you have to add in the people who are staging and have little or no idea of classical structure, and you can see how the matter can easily become very complicated!

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  • 1 year later...

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