Received for nuts - Newspaper Kommersant No. 220 (7421) dated 11/28/2022



The Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater presented a new version of The Nutcracker - Tchaikovsky's ballet was staged by Yuri Possokhov, one of the best classical choreographers in the world. I watched a Christmas story for adults and children twice Tatyana Kuznetsova.

With the colossal demand for The Nutcrackers, new productions in Moscow are discouragingly rare: the latest versions appeared almost 30 years ago. Moreover, all timid attempts to update this ballet, bringing the libretto closer to Hoffmann, have never been either radical or successful. However, the new "Nutcracker" of the Stanislavsky Music Theater did not pretend to be conceptual: the American choreographer Yuri Possokhov, the most gifted of the authors working in Russia, said (for more details - in Kommersant of November 23) that he wants to make a real Christmas ballet, equally interesting for adults and children. And he did what he wanted: a serene fairy tale, which, however, did not quite live up to holiday expectations, and for several reasons.

The first one is scenography. The artist Polina Bakhtina wrapped both acts in the hardcover of a folding book, depriving the ballet of air and space. All the events, adventures and transformations of The Nutcracker, the libretto of which differs little from the usual one given by the Soviet version of Vasily Vainonen in 1933, are squeezed into a gigantic “book”, the thick walls-“pages” of which are “turned over” with visible effort by the characters themselves. The obtuse angle formed by the “spine” of the book on the unlit backdrop eats up a fair amount of the stage, deforming the structure of the mass dances and forcing the corps de ballet to continually crumple the pattern of the composition: it seems that the artists are simply afraid to drive their foot into the wall. In the book dungeon were not only the living room of the heroes and the streets of the town, but also the "forest", lined with bulky white fir trees, cellular, like toys made of tissue paper. Deprived of joy is the gloomy realm of flowers in the second act, with its dove-gray walls, meager partitions and projections, muffled by the evening light. The coda is also puzzling, in which all the characters under the command of Drosselmeyer frolic on a kind of music hall ship, in the giant windows of which the “outer world” hangs in the form of planets, ancient globes and signs of the zodiac. The scenery also made the finale meaningless: the grown-up Marie exposes her face to the “wind of change” blowing from the bowels of a giant toy cabinet with an ugly Nutcracker lying around in it.

The second reason is the subtle humor of the choreographer, who started his own game with both music and classical choreography, the rules of which are far from clear to everyone. In the first act, getting rid of a series of dances of children, parents, grandfathers and grandmothers that had set the teeth on edge, Yuri Possokhov defiantly mixed generations in the general fuss of unceasing action. It rushes at a gallop, but it looks optional, especially the detailed episode with a treat of champagne and a ballet procession around the “Maypole” that suddenly appeared here - a pole with long multi-colored ribbons. Behind the abundance of mise-en-scenes, purely choreographic pranks slip unnoticed, such as introducing hip-hop elements into toy dances or sudden trips of soloists to the twine with an instant return to their feet.

Placers of such jokes multiply in purely choreographic scenes. Here are the snowflakes, at the end of their heavy dance, falling off their feet and forming a living snowdrift; and the Gallic "cockerel" with typically French entrechat; and the “snake woman”, who collected all the stamps of ballet “Arabic” dances; and the "Chinese", somersaulting with an indispensable ribbon, and the "Russian" ensemble "pistols" and "birds". The apogee of ballet humor is the pas de deux of the main characters, deceiving expectations in every combination. That ballerina, instead of taking a proper pose after spinning with a gentleman, suddenly hoots to the floor in a sudden deep plie. Then the Prince in the variation, having flattened himself in a big jet, immediately cuts it off with a big pirouette, so that then, as if after changing his mind, he throws himself in the jet again. Then Marie unexpectedly starts 32 fouettes, which never happened in The Nutcracker: the choreographer arranges a demonstration performance for those for whom classical ballet without a fouette is not ballet.

But all this wit is not readable without acting. But there are problems with acting humor in the troupe: despite the seeming naturalness, Posokhov's choreography is so fast, complex and paradoxical that almost all artists are concerned with the technique of performance, and not with the dance itself. The situation was complicated by the fact that the choreographer, avoiding ballet pathos and direct connotations of music and dance, often missed obvious musical accents, picking up secondary ones. As a result, it was not easy for even an experienced eye to make out where the choreographic humor was, and where the natural blooper was. Partners dropped their ladies, soloists disrupted tours and pirouettes, luminaries in mass scenes did not keep intervals and angles. The light and impetuous Oksana Kardash, Marie of the first composition, her Prince Dmitry Sobolevsky ruthlessly rubbed on pirouettes, with difficulty turned in the ground lifts, and on each top made her fear for the ballerina - what a first love! The pair of the second team, Erika Mikirticheva and Denis Dmitriev, acted more harmoniously, bravely overcoming the ballerina's natural slowness and the gentleman's physical constriction.

Those who danced for their own pleasure could be counted on the fingers: the artistic director of the troupe Maxim Sevagin rapturously reigned as Drosselmeyer, Georgi Smilevsky Jr. turned out to be a splendid and pedantic French "cockerel", the flexible and arrogant Elena Solomyanko was irresistible in Arabic dance. Whether the rest of the artists will pull up their performance or, waving their feet, will simplify the choreography, it will be possible to understand on a series of New Year's performances. But already now, the audience was in the mood to celebrate, picking up applause for every familiar combination or trick. Well, the domestic public legitimized the childish clapping to the beat on the fouette a long time ago. So the goal of the director can be considered achieved: children and adults still achieved the desired pleasure.



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