To my mom for giving me this taste for classical art, and to all Russian musical culture lovers…
2002 : Présentation sur scène
“In front of Councillor von Stahlbaum’s house.
It is Christmas Eve and Councillor von Stahlbaum is giving a party for his children, Clara and Fritz, and their friends. Among the guests is Clara’s godfather, Doctor Drosselmeyer, who is said to have magical powers. He gives Clara a nutcracker as a present. Clara also receives a pair of magical shoes from her grandparents. Jealous, Fritz breaks his sister’s nutcracker, which is hastily repaired by Doctor Drosselmeyer. Everybody dances around the Christmas tree and the nutcracker, and the evening ends on a happy note. When the party is over and everyone has gone to sleep, Clara goes downstairs to the living room and falls asleep with the nutcracker. Mice and rats invade the room and engage in a battle against tin soldiers. Suddenly, Clara is overpowered by the rodents, and the Nutcracker, brought to life by Doctor Drosselmeyer, comes to her rescue. The Nutcracker is almost killed by the King of the Rats in the ensuing duel but Clara ends the battle when she throws her magic shoe at the King of the Rats and hits him on the head. As a reward for Clara’s courage, Doctor Drosselmeyer transforms the Nutcracker into a handsome Prince, who takes Clara to the Land of Snow. There, she dances with the Snowflakes, and the Prince then takes her to visit the Kingdom of Sweets.
Clara and her Prince are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Knight. The Prince tells everyone how Clara saved his life. A big party is held in her honour during which she is presented with the most wonderful sweets and is entertained by delightful characters, ending with a beautiful pas de deux. After dancing for her, the Sugar Plum Fairy reminds Clara that she must return. A golden-winged swan appears and takes Clara home.”
– Synopsis of The Nutcracker from the website of Les Grands Ballets canadiens de Montréal
I discovered The Nutcracker way later than Swan Lake, which was a big part of my childhood as I was listening to my mother play it on the piano for countless hours to accompany a choir of children from Nancy (my birth town), Les Mirabelles, conducted by Anne Burger (“Hamburger” as my sister and I used to nickname her for fun!). As far as Swan Lake is concerned, I actually grew up with lyrics before the music itself, as Anne’s specialty was to create her own lyrics to add them to classical pieces, which I do find very creative! I could talk about all these musical tours around the world with Swan Lake, but today, I am celebrating The Nutcracker. The oldest memory I have about this ballet came back to me as I was remembering this Barbie doll I was given by who I thought was Santa Claus at the time, the Nutcracker Barbie doll, to which one could rotate the dancer feet thanks to a mechanism inserted in the ankles. Logically, it was the only Barbie doll in my collection which one was able to move the feet on which pointe shoes were directly painted. Then, there was the Royal Ballet School Diaries book series written by Alexandra Moss which I had the first three books in their French version: Ellie’s Chance to Dance, Lara’s Leap of Faith, and Isabelle’s Perfect Performance, which I have read more than once. They were among the only books I had enjoyed at the time, for I wasn’t crazy about reading as a little girl. In Lara’s Leap of Faith, the Royal Ballet School is staging The Nutcracker. Then, during the few times I would hear about this ballet again, my curiosity arose even more, but it was never a big deal. I was definitely more into Swan Lake.
During the school year 2001-2002, we are working hard to prepare the next Art et Mouvement on-stage, end-of-the-year presentation at the Espace Rive Gauche in Mériel, which will take place in a flower field in 2002.
For the day open to the public on September 9th 2001, Bernard Legon is filming our rehearsals!
Cue to spot me: I am the one who always looks lost, except for the final bow to the audience!
I became more and more interested in The Nutcracker as the years went by, though very progressively. I was beginning to fall in love with Tchaikovsky’s music.
2018: the Nutcracker year
For the first time in my life, I go out of my mind and spend quite a fortune to go see The Nutcracker staged every year by Les Grands Ballets canadiens de Montréal! For someone who has always enjoyed dancing and watching shows, I had never had the opportunity to see a professional ballet show in a theater before 2018. To continue dreaming, I decide to attend the Marché Casse-Noisette event which takes place at the Palais des congrès in Montréal a couple of days before.
Cinematographic special mentions
I was also positively surprised by the technological quality, the beauty, and the royal atmosphere of the opening scene of the film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston, 2018), which made me fall in love even more with Tchaikovsky’s genius, and the exquisite opening sequence of the ballet in particular! My second mention is for the beautiful documentary Point d’équilibre (Christine Chevarie-Lessard, 2018), seen at Cinéma Beaubien in Montréal, in which the École supérieure de ballet du Québec is preparing The Nutcracker.
At the end of the year 2018, that was it, I wanted to pursue ballet classes again at the Académie de Ballet Sona Vartanian, but was it a good idea in the end…?
Wednesday, February 5th 2020
How speechless I was when I received the video file of my on-stage, end-of-the-year presentation of 2002 by the person who was Art et Mouvement’s cameraman, and who had kept all the shows I was able to find while visiting one of his websites! I actually thought I had all my shows in my possession, but I then realized I was missing three, and for the first time in my life, I was finally able to see a show I had no memory of left, and even to notice we had danced on the opening of The Nutcracker! That certainly is a nice coincidence!
I do believe in chance, except for when I write.
Head image: klimkin on Pixabay
Video of the rehearsals: Bernard Legon
Choreography / Musical research / Mise-en-scène: Delphine MOLLOT
Soundtrack arrangements: Stéphane REICHART
Sound control: Nicolas MAES
Costumes: Catherine MOLLOT, Michèle GUILLOUX
Lights / Settings: Alain MULL
Stage control: Luc PONTHIEUX
Video: Catherine and Bernard LEGON