Nuts for The Nutcracker– My First Ballet

 

Nuts ?

It’s not that I never wanted to attend a ballet; it’s just that I never consciously made the effort to buy tickets to a show and then actually attend– you know, the whole process. I’m a gelatinous blob in many ways, figuring that I have the rest of my life to “catch up.”  E.g., I’ve never seen the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. But I will… one day.

Oh wait… I did see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a troupe of male ballerinas who, after you laugh hysterically for the first ten minutes, cause you to sit up and realize that they are actually exceptionally accomplished.

So, at his urging, Kirk and I met a few friends at The Bob Carr last night for a performance of  The Nutcracker,  staged by Robert Hill, the Orlando Ballet’s new Artistic Director. I’d really no idea what to expect– I looked up the story on Wikipedia and got the gist, but was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I knew all the songs already. I turned the experience into a one-man hum-along! Kidding; the only occasional extraneous noise was provided by a small child behind me who insisted on unwrapping and then playing with his souvenir Nutcracker RIGHT THERE, followed by a hissed  “not NOW, Madison!!”

As far as I could tell, the ballet’s storyline is about a family who gives a large Christmas party for the entire population of Mitteleuropa. There’s a lot of gesturing and folk dancing, the requisite funny old couple, and thousands of children with ADHD. I was amazed that they were able to jam that many people onstage, but they did it with grace and precision. (Why wasn’t I encouraged to take ballet lessons when I was a child?? I’m just asking.) Soon a magician uncle arrives to distribute presents, and we are treated to three mechanical dancing dolls who make the Stepford wives look like jellyfish. Incredible! They caused me to want to sit up straight in my seat, erect, but then I had to slouch down again because Madison couldn’t see past my head.

The little girl protagonist is gifted with a nutcracker; being that the original story was written in 1816, this is understandable. These days Madison would most likely prefer a Barbie who shoots miniature WMD’s at Midge. But the little girl loves her nutcracker and proceeds to crack open treats for all the children on stage who gather and cheep and lift up their hands to her like little birds.

Apparently she ate some bad walnuts because that night the little girl dreams that the house has been overrun by rats and mice. Nice, right? Things were not so perfect in Merrie Olde England, I tell you. And you just KNEW the exterminator was not going to be paying any calls during Christmas week.

A troupe of soldiers assails the vermin, and all is well; the little girl’s dream becomes more involved and we are treated to beautifully hallucinogenic visions of snowflakes, sugarplum fairies, Russian dancers, and living candies. Entrancing! I was totally enchanted… even Madison was quiet (or maybe he had been dragged out of the theatre to be locked inside the family’s SUV).

The little girl eventually wakes up, clutching her nutcracker, and the ballet ends. The two hours (with break) flew by like magic! I felt like I was five years old again, and idly wondered about just what type of holiday liqueur would put me into the same happily comatose state as those bad walnuts did the little girl.

And I just checked the TV schedule to see if  It’s A Wonderful Life is playing… and it’s the ONLY thing on TV !

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