Live from the Bolshoi Theatre. This 1978 remake is a truly spellbinding version of this Christmas classic. Tchaikovsky's beloved melodies combine with superb dancing to create pure delight. Starring Yekaterina Maximova, Vl... more »adimir Vasiliev, Victor Levashev, and Sergei Radchenko. 105 mins.« less
""The Nutcracker" is such a popular ballet, with so many different versions available, that it can be difficult to choose between them all. There is one compelling reason to give serious consideration to this particular title: ballerina Yekaterina Maximova. Graceful and joyous, her dancing stands out as exemplary. Her partner is Vladimir Vasiliev, and they are wonderful together.
The choreography is by Bolshoi Artistic Director and Ballet Master, Yuri Grigorovich. His overall work has been influential, but one of its peculiarities is his rejection of mime. In a typical "Nutcracker" production, act two begins with the "mimelogue" section. Marie and the Prince arrive at the Kingdom of the Sweets, where they use mime to tell their hosts about how they vanquished the evil Mouse King. Grigorovich has omitted the "mimelogue," and this change to the libretto makes it slightly less cohesive.
It is also helpful to contrast Grigorovich's choreographic style with others. In many Western productions of this ballet, the roles of the mice and the Nutcracker are primarily theatrical, but Grigorovich's choreography contains a greater emphasis on pure dancing. Furthermore, some Western productions contain comedic touches, but there are none to be found here. One interesting feature of Grigorovich's choreography is that Marie marries the prince during her dream. The choreography takes advantage of some of the Bolshoi Theatre stage machinery: the Mouse King appears out of a hole in the floor, and some of the lead characters fly. Many people enjoy children in a "Nutcracker" performance, but there are none used in this production. These things can be good or bad, depending on your individual tastes.
Grigorovich has amended many of the traditional corps routines to also include the ballerina and/or the premier danceur. The camera gives preferential treatment to Maximova during many of the early corps numbers. Later, both Maximova and Vasiliev participate in the "Waltz of the Snowflakes," where they do various big leaps, while the corps dancers strike a pose. Maximova's jump is indeed very graceful. Particularly impressive is her bucking grand jete (reminiscent of the signature "Don Quixote" leap). Her aesthetics are very admirable. Vasiliev gets to do a tour jete around the huge Bolshoi stage on a number of occasions in this ballet, but his jumping seems especially noteworthy during his variation in the grand pas de deux.
This video was recorded during a live performance of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia. This is a "one-off" performance--meaning that there are no double takes to correct small mistakes. At one point, for instance, the curtain comes down, and one of the dancers is on the wrong side of it, in plain view of the audience. Tchaikovsky's musical score is undoubtedly a masterpiece, but there are some imperfections involved with the sound recording. During the "Waltz of the Snowflakes," the brass instruments are a little too blaring and not well mixed with the other instruments. Despite some minor imperfections, the overall performance is strong and noteworthy. The video contains short credits in English, and some even shorter ones in Russian. A libretto is provided on the VCR jacket, but not on the tape itself.
In conclusion, there is some top quality dancing by the leads in this production. The performance ends very strongly, with an interesting corps routine to "Waltz of the Flowers" and the majestic grand pas de deux by Maximova and Vasiliev. Out of the fourteen different versions of this ballet that I have seen to date, this is one of the more compelling ones. Those of you who enjoy my writing are invited to click on "rss28" above to visit my member page, where you can read reviews of other "Nutcracker" interpretations to compare with this one."
A Live Stage Recording
Weike Tao | Galveston, TX USA | 01/29/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A live recording of stage performance by the Bolshoi Ballet in the 1970's. Maximova is impressive and Vasiliev in simply incredible. Good choreography. Stage props and recording quality a bit old style with colors a bit dull. Music quality is not truly great. Audience interference is present but tolerable."
Phenomenal Dancing Nutcracker
rodboomboom | Dearborn, Michigan United States | 12/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The dancing here is superb with superstar efforts by the leads Maximova and Vasiliev. The other dancers, particularly those pairs in Act II are excellent as well, particularly the Russian Dance and the Chinese. The uncle/magician does an admirable role as well.The music is exquisite, however the recording is not as sharp and clear as we have become accustomed to in our time. The stage and set design is superb with the wire acts and the lights and costumes. The marriage near the end is a great addition, and the characters at times appearing out of the floor is neat addition.Filmed live years ago, this is worthy effort for its time and the technology available."
The Best Possible!
Guy Olin | 12/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb live on-stage performance. The virtuoso dancers are highly inspired by the support of the audience and show their best. The dance technique is almost unbelievable and gives a taste of the outstanding Russian ballet school. The viewer can see here the full Nutcracker version - nothing is skipped. The orchestra is very good and also shown on the recording. The conductor comes on the stage at the end to accept congratulations. Most of the scenes are masterpieces. Compared to other Nutcracker versions, all dancers here are superb, not only the main characters. Every detail is worked out in the best possible way. If you are interested in ballet, you should own this one!"
Shelly Van Atta | Binghamton, NY | 12/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This version of the Nutcracker satisfied every bit of my need to see superb, Russian, ballet technique in all its glory! True, it may lack in color and zest (ofcourse Americans can't imagine anything unless it's dripping in blinking lights and such), but the rather drab colors may have been an attempt to demonstrate contrast between what ought to be focused on and what NOT to focus on. Remember, this is the Bolshoi, not Las Vegas....this is world class Ballet at it's finest and Maximova and Vasiliev deliver 10-fold. I prefer the renditions where Masha is both child AND adult dancing in both acts as opposed to one version of her in Act I and then another version of her in Act II. I also loved how Masha and the Nutcracker danced the Grande Pas de Deux, instead of the Sugar Plum Fairy that you might see in a Balachine Production. Overall, if you're a dancer who can appreciate technique-then you'll love this, however, if you're a mom looking for another "Barbie Nutcracker", you'll hate this."