Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Nutcracker Sweeties/The Judas Tree|
Actors: Nao Sakuma, Monica Zamora
Director: Peter Mumford
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Nutcracker Sweeties is Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington?s big band attack on Tchaikovsky. It portrays Broadway and America in the 1940s; full of humor, irony, commentary, swing and blues. The cast, dressed in an array of... more »
Two Beautiful And Great Modern Ballets.
J. M WILINSKY | teaneck, NJ United States | 03/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What do these two ballets have in common? Well, just a few things: they are both seductive; they both use classical ballet technique to express modern themes; and they are both danced by British ballet companies.
Nutcracker Sweeties only vaguely resembles the classical Nutcracker ballet. It is very sensual and amusing, as well as interesting with challenging choreography and beautifully danced. It is set basically as entertainment for World War Two GI's, using sailor and army costumes in places. There are some of the ethnic dances reminiscent ot the Nutcracker ballet. Most of the women dance on pointe, and the men in the usual classical fashion.
The Judas Tree was Kenneth MacMillan's last ballet and he really went out with a bang! This ballet, which features Irek Mukhamedov and Leanne Benjamin, is a fascinating tidbit of modern ballet with very aggressive and difficult choreography, but an extremely bizarre story. The story seems to combine some of the features of "Le Jeune Homme Et La Mort", and "Carmen", with a little surprise thrown in, which I won't spoil for you. The dancers are absolutely fantastic in this, but Leanne is particularly noteworthy. If you would like to see what a perfect physical condition for a ballerina is, both in terms of flexibility and strength, take a look at Leanne in this. She is in amazing condition. The historical importance of this ballet also hangs over this at every turn.
Whereas the music for the first ballet is in the jazz style and has a familiar quality for most viewers, the music for the second is very modern and atonal; it is beautifully composed, but some viewers may find it difficult to appreciate, judging from my experience with audience reactions.
The image quality is perfectly crystal clear(looks like digital tape) as is the sound quality.
Be sure to add these two wonderful ballet works to your collection!"
A common man's point of view.
Richard Rawls | Dublin Ga USA | 09/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Read Mr Willinsky's review, because it is right on, as usual. You can trust his reviews. In point of fact, I bought this ballet on his recommendation. NUTCRACKER SWEETIES is certainly a jazzed up versiion of Tchaikovsky's popular Nutcracker Suite. Did you pick up on the cliche, Sweeties/Suite? The music is very good though you may not recognize every tune. I could hardly recognize Tchaikovsky's Trepak which is one of my favorites. NUTCRACKER SWEETIES is performed by dancers of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the music was arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The sound is good, color is even better and the sets are spectacular.
JUDAS TREE? Don't look for beauty here. The setting is a construction site. Thirteen men and one woman. Where she comes from, I don't know. Why she's there, I don't know. I do know that her presents creates a lot of friction in the thirteen workmen, and turns out to be a dangerous place for a woman, though it is her own behavior which creates the dangerous atmosphere. Leanne Benjamin is a fabulous ballerina, and she is at her peak in this performance. There is not an ounce of fat on this womans body, just 150% pure muscle, and like Mr Willinsky says, she is in perfect condition for this style of dancing. She can hold her own with any man as a dancer. This is "modern" style dancing but much more enjoyable than some forms of "modern" dance. I do not recall seeing a single "ugly" pose in the ballet and some so-called modern ballets are full of them. As usual, MacMillan's choreography is wonderful and you will see some very unusual hard to believe moves by this mostly male corps of the Royal Ballet. It's not very expensive, and I believe you will enjoy this ballet.......Richard."
Inspired ballet/jazz version of nutcracker suite
jazz lover since 1960 | Tampa, Fl. and Franklin, NC | 01/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am writing this review as a jazz fan. Please understand that my review of this DVD only covers the first ballet: "Nutcracker Sweeties." I will leave it to the previous 2 reviewers to speak about the "Judas Tree", which left me indifferent.
I first encountered the video of "Nutcracker Sweeties" on PBS TV during their Christmas season broadcasts, and fell in love with it. The joy of the music is overwhealming, and dance moves of the dancers perfectly match the moods of the Duke Ellinton/ Billy Strayhorn score. Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn wrote a unique, swinging jazz version of the Tchaikovsky ballet score. The DVD has choreographer David Bintley's inspired dance interpretation of that music.
As a jazz lover, I was blown away at how the jazz band on this DVD could sound so like the original Duke Ellington orchestra, or even better! But it was not the Ellington orchestra. Man, do they SWING! Further research revealed that they are not a fly by night jazz band, but the British jazz band called Echoes of Ellington. They have a history of interpreting the music of Duke since 1991. Under the leadership of clarinetist Peter Long, they have been a hit band in Europe. They may still be playing, but the last mention I could find of them playing dates from 2002. As one small example of their expertise, baritone saxist Jay Craig sounds like a the reincarnation of legendary Ellington baritone saxist, Harry Carney.
The female dancers are beautiful and sexy, and really seem to be enjoying the jazzy, bouncing moves created by the choreographer. Likewise, the male dancers. If you love jazz, Duke Ellington, the Nutcracker Ballet, or whatever, you should see this joyous feast for the eyes and ears!"