Ogunquit Performing Arts Classic Film Series presents legendary dancer Rudolph Nureyev, starring in his own production of “The Nutcracker” with The Royal Ballet, London, co-starring Merle Park.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 2 pm at the Dunaway Center, 23 School Street, Ogunquit.
Free admission, parking, and Christmas treats!
Filmed in full color at the Royal Opera House by the BBC, this historic performance from 1968 captures Rudolph Nureyev at the peak of his career, seven years after his dramatic defection from the Soviet Union in Paris’ Le Bourget Airport while on tour with the Marinsky Ballet.
At the time, Nureyev was quickly offered a contract with London’s Royal Ballet, where he began his famous partnership with Margot Fonteyn, and also immediately began to re-choreograph the company’s most traditional ballets.
Nureyev staged The Nutcracker for the first time in November 1967 for the Royal Swedish Ballet, a version which would be revived several times in London, Milan, Buenos Aires and Berlin. He aimed to retain the ballet’s appeal to children while changing the balance of roles and choreography to be of more interest to adults as well.
The work had traditionally featured the toymaker Drosselmeyer giving a magic nutcracker at Christmas to the child Clara, who is then escorted by the Nutcracker/Prince to a distant land of sweets, where she enjoys watching a series of dances by solo artists, climaxed by the famous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Nureyev gave his version a new dimension: Drosselmeyer and the Prince are one and the same person, representing the ideal man of Clara’s dream. Clara herself becomes the Sugar Plum Fairy and a young woman, joining her Prince in the final Grand Pas de Deux.
With the additional choreography for these two, including another gorgeous Pas de Deux in the first act, Nureyev created two major roles suitable for a company’s leading dancers, and gave the ballet a more cohesive plot.
This new approach was soon adopted in other companies and productions, including one by Baryshnikov for American Ballet Theatre ten years later.
From the beginning of his career, Nureyev had already changed the role of the male dancer in the general repertoire, (which heretofore had traditionally been to support and showcase the ballerina, with only a few solo moments for himself.) Nureyev dramatically upgraded the choreography, requiring the premier danseur to perform as intricate and demanding steps as the prima ballerina, whether in unison, mirror-image, or complementary fashion.
He was also known for his thrilling and seemingly effortless leaps and jumps, implementing a combination of two skills: to jump very high while also continuing to move across the stage. The audience had the impression that the dancer was both flying and suspended in midair.
All of the achievements of this tremendous dancer are showcased in this live performance film, in Nureyev’s sumptuous production recalling the ballet’s Russian origins. He is joined by The Royal Ballet’s prima ballerina Merle Park, whose glowing performance of this exquisite new role lifted her to international stardom in the world of dance.
The Nutcracker is in two acts adapted from a story by Alexandre Dumas, with all the original music by Tchaikovsky, and with production and choreography by Rudolph Nureyev after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.
Don’t miss the fanciful charm and sweeping beauty of this perennial holiday favorite! Join us on Sunday afternoon, December 2nd at 2:00 pm, Dunaway Center, 23 School Street, Ogunquit. Admission, parking, and Christmas treats are free.