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Ballet Talk for Dancers

The Nutcracker


rlyons

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I just saw the local production of the Nutcracker. It was very nice but one thing confused me. Clara was played by a little girl not a young adult and she didn't do the solo that Gelsey Kirkland did for example. I guess I am confused as to which solos are whose between the Sugarplum fairy and Clara or does it depend on whether the dancer playing Clara has the technical ability or not whether she dances it or the fairy dances it?

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The original production concept of the show had child's parts played by children. As time went on, various Russian revisions of the story took place, replacing Clara with Masha, in a mashup of two of the original parts. Marie was the name of Clara's older sister. In productions derived from the Ballet Russe production staged by Alexandra Fedorova, who went back to the original Ivanov. Marie's material was played by a maid, or a "favorite aunt" or some other character. In most Russian productions, Marie/Masha is the ballerina part. Kirkland's production was by Baryshnikov and favored the 1930s Russian revision/interpretation of Vasily Vainonen.

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Especially in local productions (i.e. school or youth company ones) there can be huge variations in the choreography, budgets, available dancers, and traditions. All of these affect how Nutcracker is staged. And even professional versions differ. Our local studio Nutcracker has a young girl as Clara, as does the NYCB version. The Joffrey uses many child dancers, but the roles of Clara and Fritz are reserved to company members. I think you will also find much variation in how Clara/Marie/Masha is deployed throughout the ballet, hence what kind of solos (or pas de deux) she does.

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Baryshnikov version is different in that he gives the Sugar Plum music to Clara.

 

I watched a PNB video of it and Clara was an adult. When I was a child the one I saw in NYC had an adult Clara as well. I was very young so I have no idea if I saw Baryshnikov's Nutcracker or another one.

 

In the one I saw last year by the regional company in my area, Clara was played by a child ACTRESS and not a dancer. She did not dance at all.

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Baryshnikov version is different in that he gives the Sugar Plum music to Clara.

 

Just like Vainonen.

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