Aurora | The Nutcracker

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3 THE NUTCRACKER


Cover and photoshoot: Trislane Martins and Marlon Sales photographed by Carol Lancelloti. Beauty: Robertta Chapim. Costumes and crowns: Albertini Costumes. Tutus: Ateliê Vanessa Ballet and personal collection. Set: Jessica Lacerda, Carol Lancelloti and Maria Fernanda Rocha. Production assistants: Jessica Lacerda and Alexandre Prates.


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JOURNEY TO CONFITUREMBURG

THE NUTCRACKER: THE MUSIC OF

BY MILENA PONTES

TCHAIKOVSKY’S LAST BALLET BY HELENA OLIVEIRA CORREA

14

THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS ON TIPTOES BY JULIANA MEL

36

FADA MADRINHA INTERVIEW WITH CECÍLIA KERCHE

16

BY CAROL LANCELLOTI

22

SNOW DREAM

NUTCRACKER SUPERSTAR

FROM CLARA TO MASHA BY CAROL LANCELLOTI

42 48

THANK YOU

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ENCHANTED KINGDOM


Journey to Confituremburg BY MILENA PONTES

The

Nutcracker

is

like

unwrapping

presents

under

a big Christmas tree. A show of small ballets in a grand divertissement, the fusion of ingenious personalities, the personal events affecting the ways of its creation, at a first look, simple, at the end of a century marked by the emergence of sociology and psychology, and the appreciation of the -2-

contradictions of human relationships and reflections. This is what we watch, replicate, criticize and modify. We feed and keep it alive! A ballet is never just a tale about a distant reality, however féerie it may be. Coincidentally, like this edition, what a great responsibility a ballet has after Aurora’s pompous and sparkling dream in Sleeping Beauty. I invite the reader to leave the palace, but without stopping dreaming among the new pine trees, hand in hand with Clara and her Nutcracker on their way to the Kingdom of Sweets. Its popularity today is so far removed from the negative response to its first production that we do not suspect the work’s long journey to respectability. Ballet and the customs surrounding it have changed: it has become a Christmas ritual, and we have accepted it in versions with significant adjustments to the story. His conception was flawed, as far as the setting was concerned, as to the way of presentation planned for him, which was commissioned in the manner of the 18th century, a ballet to end an evening of entertainment after a more serious opera. Common choice to what used


Picture by Milena Pontes


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Picture by Milena Pontes


to happen in theaters like the Paris Opera, for

and sinuous tones fit perfectly into the fairytale

example. But that connection did not last, after

environment of the Nutcracker. In his ethereal

eleven performances, The Nutcracker parted

notes, Tchaikovsky recognized the voice of his

ways with Iolanta.

Sugar Plum Fairy and immediately requested the acquisition of the instrument for the presentation.

The Nutcracker was the third and last ballet to

His work continued, but without his satisfaction.

be composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and

In letters, he confided to family members that

the second collaboration between the composer,

he found it impossible to incorporate the image

choreographer

director

of the Kingdom of Sweets into music. He then

Tchaikovsky

asked Vsevolozhsky to postpone the première

was commissioned to compose a new opera

to the next season describing a crisis of self-

in one act and this ballet in two acts based on

confidence that visited his creative mind.

Ivan

Marius

Vsevolozhsky

Petipa

from

whom

and

the somewhat sombre tale of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann, but

“I haven’t created any very daring musical

adapted from the summary by Alexandre Dumas

tricks yet… The second act can be extremely

- The Nutcracker Tale that set the tone for the

fascinating, but it requires a composing job for

atmosphere that we know.

which I don’t have enough time…” -5-

Despite all the mentions, the subject was not

“I tried to do my best, but I tried in vain (…)

very enthusiastic for the composer who was

These images don’t give me joy or inspiration;

reluctant to participate in the ballet, while the

they terrify me day and night.” - referring to the

opera theme fascinated him. One of the reasons

various illustrations of the scenery and costumes

would have been a serious disagreement with

made by the director.

Vsevolozhsky who had removed his opera The Queen of Spades from the repertoire of the

The

Imperial Theater. But everything was clarified,

composer happened to have the news, by chance,

and in February 1891, Tchaikovsky started

in a newspaper that his dear sister Alexandra, his

composing for the new ballet, guided by a list of

“guardian angel and fairy Ondine”, had spoken.

postponement

was

granted

after

the

detailed instructions made by Petipa. “I am knocked out and unable to compose the In early March, when he left St. Petersburg for

Kingdom of Sweets, a trip the second act of the

a tour, he had already done half the music for

ballet takes.” - wrote to Brother Modest.

the first act and the Waltz of the Snowflakes. In passing through Paris, the happy discovery of a

His sister’s affection and memories are mentioned

new instrument would forever mark his work and

by some authors as an important inspiration

our affective memory; the celesta with its light

for the representation of the Sugar Plum Fairy,


Aurora

and about his vision of himself as Drosselmayer, the

reference (if indeed they were planned) the battle of

mysterious uncle, godfather and magician of the

the rats against the lead soldiers would have taken on a

children of Silberhaus inspired by his relationship

lifetime of meaning.

with his nephews. With the composition in progress,

In the ballet, the battle and the transformation of a

new problems arose in relation to the libretto; the

nutcracker into a young man just happens, while in the

collaborators considered that the story was not entirely

story that preceded them, both were motivated by a

adequate for a show at the level of what they had

longstanding grudge that the Mouse King (and his

accomplished until then. The result would be a simple

mother before him) maintained against Drosselmeyer

children’s tale, without any meaning or morals.

and his nephew, who was turned into a doll as a revenge. Just as we don’t know the moral, the result of

It was common for children from the Imperial School

Clara’s visit to Confiturembourg. Does she always come

to participate in productions that included children’s

back? Does she marry? Do her parents care about her?

dances, but this time Petipa went beyond tradition with

Première gaps that probably made room for so many

the prominent roles of Clara, her brother Fritz and the

versions.

Nutcracker. Stanislava Belinskaya, first Clara was only 12 years old.

Motivated by the previous success of Sleeping Beauty, interpretations like Yury Slonimsky’s were inevitable;

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According to critic Sergei Khudekov, another support

“The

for the decision would be because “children’s dances

belonging to the same world as the Fairy Carabosse,

were appreciated in the highest circles”. However, the

and the mice of the fairy entourage become a powerful

children’s lack of advanced technique limited Petipa’s

force that go against the heroes of The Nutcracker”.

characteristic choreographic evolutions. Even with all

This statement, discounting certain musical intonations,

the emphasis in the children on the first act, it brings us

highlights what the two characters have in common in

a little insight into the evolution of adult social dances

the ballet, being another point that goes against the

between generations.

writing and the meaning of Hoffmann’s story.

About past generations, Fedor Lepukhov read in

Unfortunately, the beginning of rehearsals was marked

the work a progression from misery to happiness,

by a tragedy in the family of the choreographer.

believing that Petipa’s notes show traces of an intention

Evgenia, daughter of Marius Petipa, died of cancer at

that invokes the French Revolution: “A ballet about

age 15. Afterwards, he retired from his post, shaken and

childhood may well have awakened memories of stories

having fallen ill due to a serious skin problem, these

told by their parents.” A remnant of this assumption

events kept him away for the rest of the season. Some

appears in the first act shortly after the parents’ entry,

commentators suggested that Petipa’s illness was an

with adults dressed in incroyables and merveilleuses

excuse to move away from a “lost cause.”

dancing Tchaikovsky’s version of a well-known French

The tragic event would have its mention in the work in

song (possibly imported from New England) called “Bon

the second act; the original version danced by eight

Voyage Monsieur Dumollet”. Originally Petipa reportedly

soloists and twenty-four couples from the corps de ballet

listed a dance with “La Carmagnole” the popular song

of Waltz of the Flowers or “Golden Waltz” as it came to

of the French Revolution, but removed it. With such a

be called, it had no success, although it had an opulent

4

mysterious

magician

Drosselmeyer

ends

up


The Nutcracker

production with everyone in gold including a huge

spiral, turning, expanding and contracting creating

flower vase. The flowers represented in the waltz

multiple shapes would become the most talked

have been altered in numerous modern productions,

about and admired vision in its première. Today, the

but in the production of the Ballet Imperial they

corps de ballet of the snowflakes is seen as a clear

were marigolds - small orange flowers from the

indication of the remarkable achievement of Ivanov

sunflower family, and for a very personal reason.

at Swan Lake.

When Evgenia Petipa died, these flowers suddenly grew in her father’s garden, so the composition

“The plush pompoms in the white dresses, the hats

became a tribute to her beloved daughter.

in the shape of star rays and the accessories in the shape of curls, and wands dangling in the hands

In some productions, the soloists of Waltz of the

of the dancers, represented very successfully and

Flowers are omitted and the number is just a dance

picturesquely the movements of snowflakes, dancers

for the corps de ballet and, in other versions, with

produced a beautiful impression of the artistic

one leading soloist. In Balanchine’s production,

allegory of a snowdrift.” - Skalkovsky, ballet critic.

the lead soloist is called Dewdrop, and in Sir Peter Wright’s version is a Rose Fairy, a role he added to

Agrippina

ballet when he enacted his 1990 production.

swirled, spread out as if they had been blown by

Vaganova

recalled:

“The

snowflakes

the wind, and came back together. The scene was Lev Ivanov, until then assistant to Marius Petipa,

wonderful.” -7-

was taken by Petipa’s retirement to the doors of Confiturembourg, the land of sweets where the

The scene in all documents is mentioned as the

second act takes place. Temporarily named ballet

highlight and the part praised among so many bad

master,

critiques in the première. Something similar to this

taking

on

the

choreography

for

The

Nutcracker, Ivanov composed only one act; the

was presented in the Camargo and The Snow

second half of ballet. Petipa attributed the mise

Daughter ballets, but this new ballet winter has

en scène and the choreography to Ivanov, but the

surpassed in beauty its precedents. Anna Pavlova

libretto to himself, evidenced by his instructions to

was responsible for one of the first productions

Tchaikovsky. The rehearsals were also supervised by

in the West when, in 1911, she presented a new

Enrico Cecchetti.

ballet in London called Snowflakes based on the snowy forest scene choreographed by Ivan Clustine.

A flaw pointed out in the libretto as the most

Several excerpts from the full score were used, and

problematic was the lack of attention to the fusion

this seems to have been the first production with

of the two acts combined in a coherent passage

the music of the journey through the pine forest as

between the worlds of everyday life and fantasy.

a pas de deux, for a King and a Snow Queen.

And that is certainly what Ivanov did; the symphonic sequence, a portal of pattern and dynamics built

The Nutcracker is also not the only ballet to present

together in the shape of a blizzard - The Waltz of the

a sequence of national dances during a party, and

Snowflakes with thirty dancers in white tutus and

this fact deserves attention, as it reminds us of a

headdresses (yes, headdresses and not crowns) in a

custom from the 1830s of public dances in Europe.


Aurora

Ordinary people, amateur dancers took dance lessons

flirtatious doll Columbine. And thanks to her, the ballet

to have fun at night at these balls. The opposite also

took on new life on the last date, when she took on the

happened when professional dancers, properly dressed,

role of principal dancer in the famous final pas de deux,

performed national dances and others still with ballet

replacing Dell’Era and enchanting with her grace and

technique for the entertainment of the guests.

nobility of poses and movements executing the variation on pointe composed for celesta and remembered as

These divertissements of public dances played an

flawlessly.

important role, as they placed both the classical pas and the character pas equally as appropriate for popular

In 1919, important changes made by Alexander Gorsky

entertainment.

and

took place for the Bolshoi Imperial Ballet and many of

theatrical dance were closely linked. We understand

the most famous modern traditions began. Gorsky put

that the delicacies represented in The Nutcracker are

adults in the roles of Clara and Nutcracker, introduced a

not an epiphany of its creators, but an interpretation

romantic atmosphere between the two characters and,

that would be a reflection of the first half of the 19th

omitting the characters from the Sugar Plum Fairy and

century with a touch of the exotic romantic fad.

Cavalier, gave the couple their Grand Pas de Deux. The

They

remembered

that

social

Fairy would become Clara’s projection of herself. Still on national dances, the fact that they preceded the grand pas de deux establishes one of the great marks of

In Hoffman’s original story and debut in 1892, the ballet

Petipa’s style. If the intention at first was to provide fun

ended with Clara and Nutcracker being crowned in

and entertainment, there was also maximum virtuosity.

Confituremburg (The Land of Sweets) as his new rulers. It was in Gorsky’s production that the adventure became

In The Nutcracker, as well as in other Petipa’s ballets,

a dream; ending with Clara waking up at her home and

national dances took place also since the works of the

the Nutcracker like an ordinary doll. These changes were

Romanticism. But in those bodies that danced and in

maintained by Soviet choreographers, especially Vasily

the minds that disciplined them, there was already a

Vainonen in his long version in 1934, who, like other

restlessness recreating codes, reframing the technique.

producers frustrated with flaws in the libretto structure,

Motivated by the speed, electricity and light of the Belle

tried to find interpretations by minimizing Hoffmann’s

Époque.

supernatural dimension, turning the narrative into a metaphor about the maturation of the main character.

The adventure ended with Clara and the Nutcracker

Musician Nicolas Slonimsky observed that “On stage,

being welcomed by Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier or

she is seen in a static condition of childhood, but in

Prince Orgeat. The first Fairy was played by Antonietta

Tchaikovsky’s music she breaks this limitation and

Dell’Era, a visitor from the Royal Theater in Berlin.

shows her transition from childhood to youth and

But that, despite a very good technique, did not have

the development of her personality in the process of

outstanding characteristics and prudently did not stay

experiencing the genuine love ”.

until the end of his tour, returning to Berlin. Over time, for many, The Nutcracker became their first A

particular

hit

Preobrazhenskaya,

came the

from

charming

ballerina and

Olga

experience in ballet and, perhaps, any other performing

elegantly

art. This is an important introduction to this art form


The Nutcracker

for all ages, but especially for children who have such

that Tchaikovsky wrote for an orchestra and children’s

a strong representation. Present in the programming

choir is the culmination of music that frees heroes from

of many schools and companies establishing a special

their earthly concerns and elevates them to a happy

connection with several dancers who had the opportunity

eternal life.

to interpret different roles within the plot at each stage of life and career.

This “childhood poem”, as the ballet was called by many Russian musicologists, was Tchaikovsky’s confession, a

The recognition of the instincts involved in this

unique lyrical autobiography. In his revived images of

production, establishing such points with the trajectory

the past, he sought a way out of the crisis that had

of its collaborators, is capable of bringing each of us

condemned him to death. The Nutcracker was a sweet

closer to its hidden meaning.

dream, the last refuge of a desperate soul, which today we have the opportunity to reframe.

A journey to the home of Clara’s own feelings. The heroine falls in love with an ugly toy that hides a beautiful fairy tale prince. Her life is mysteriously divided between day and night, reality and dreams. Her dormant feelings are risen by the danger of your loved one. The conflict between good and evil ends with the triumph of love. She learns the meaning of life through competition with death. The Waltz of the Snowflakes

References:

Ballet Music, by Humphrey Searle. https://petipasociety.com/the-nutcracker/ Tchaikovsky: The man revealed, by John Suchet Apollo’s Angels: a History of Ballet, by Jennifer Homans. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, by Joel Meyerowitz Marius Petipa: The Emperor’s Ballet Master, by Nadine Meisner The Victor Book of Ballets and Ballet Music, by Robert Lawrence 101 Stories of The Great Ballets, by George Balanchine e Francis Mason. Tchaikovsky’s Ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, by Roland John Wiley The official Bolshoi Ballet Book of The Nutcracker, by Yuri Grigorovich and Alexander Demidov.

The Life and Ballets of Lev Ivanov. Choreographer of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, by Roland John Wiley

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“The heroine falls in love with an ugly toy that hides a beautiful fairy tale prince. Her life is mysteriously divided between day and night, reality and dreams. Her dormant feelings are risen by the danger of your loved one. The conflict between good and evil ends with the triumph of love.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Milena Pontes is an amateur dancer, dedicated researcher of the history of Classical Ballet and content creator through her blog Tutu4Love.


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Picture by Carol Lancelloti and Milena Pontes


The Magic of Christmas

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on Tiptoes BY JULIANA MEL


The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is certainly the most beloved

original

piece by companies during the holidays.

orchestral arrangements have hardly changed

Inspired by a short story by the German writer

over time, perhaps due to the fact that it is

E. T. A. Hoffman, Tchaikovsky repeated his

a smaller score compared to Tchaikovsky’s

partnership with choreographer Marius Petipa

previous ballets. Its duration, however, does

after the success of Sleeping Beauty (1890).

not prevent choreographers from surprising

Lev Ivanov took over the task of completing

the audience. George Balanchine’s version,

Petipa’s work, and the première of the ballet at

for example, presents the Grand Pas de

the Mariinsky Theatre in 1892 divided opinions.

Deux only with Entrée, Adage and Coda. The

The choreography received several criticisms,

variation of the Prince was excluded from the

especially due to the fact that the couple

ballet and the variation of the Sugar Plum

of leading dancers, who play the Sugared

Fairy was relocated to the beginning of the

Fairy and the Prince, only danced at the end

second act, before the arrival of Clara and

of the ballet. This fact led one of the first

the Nutcracker to the Kingdom of Sweets.

and

full

of

sentimentality.

His

productions of the 20th century, conceived by Alexander Gorsky in 1919, to transport

The joyful theme of this work also contributes

the

a

central

character

of

the

story

from

good

deal

to

the

great

diversity

of

childhood to adolescence. In this way, it was

productions,

possible to assign the roles of Clara and

party, in which Drosselmeyer’s mechanical

Sugar Plum Fairy to a single dancer. The same

toys

reasoning also applies to the male principal

Vainonen’s version there is the Harlequin

dancer,

doll, a wind-up doll and a Moorish doll , in

and

the

who

interpreted

Prince.

This

the

Nutcracker

structure

change

starting with

with each

the

Christmas

production:

in

became

Grigorovich’s, Colombine, Harlequin and a

popular in many productions, such as that

couple of imps appear, and in Peter Wright’s

of Vassili Vainonen for the Mariinsky Ballet

for the Royal Ballet, we have Colombine,

and that of Yuri Grigorovich for the Bolshoi.

Harlequin, a soldier and a vivandière (woman

On the other hand, the score was highly

who followed the troops to sell food and

praised, having been considered melodious,

drink to soldiers), among other possibilities.

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Aurora

Speaking of Peter Wright, it is impossible to remember The Nutcracker without mentioning its version for the Royal Ballet, one of the most beloved by the general public. First staged by the company in the 1980s, the structure of some choreographies in the first productions followed the descriptions contained in the original score. One of these passages is the entrance of the first couple of mechanical dolls (the Harlequin and Colombine), which according to the notations, come out of a vegetable and a pasta. Another interesting moment that has been incorporated is a kind of prologue, which shows an excerpt from Hoffman’s tale omitted in Petipa’s libretto: the fact that the Nutcracker is Drosselmeyer’s nephew who was transformed into the puppet. To break the spell, it was necessary for a young woman to love him despite his appearance. Over the years, this production was renewed, gained new choreography and had part of its costumes redesigned, all without - 14 -

losing the essence that so enchants the audience. Finally, the protagonist’s name also changes from version to version. The most popular is Clara, the original is Marie, and in several Russian productions she became known as Masha. In any case, the magic of this work, which was not Tchaikovsky’s favorite work, makes children and adults thrilled by this story that is a true Christmas dream.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Juliana Mel is a researcher, amateur dancer and dedicated to sharing information about Classical Ballet, preserving its memory.

“The protagonist’s name also changes from version to version. The most popular is Clara, the original is Marie, and in several Russian productions she became known as Masha.”


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Pictures by Milena Pontes e Carol Lancelloti.


NUTCRACKER SUPERSTAR M A R LO N S A L E S P H OTO G R A P H E D BY C A RO L L A N C E L LOT I B E AU T Y : RO B E RT TA C H A P I M COSTUMES: ALBERTINI COSTUMES






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Sets: Jessica Lacerda, Carol Lancelloti and Maria Fernanda Rocha. Production assistants: Jessica Lacerda and Alexandre Prates.


From Clara to Masha BY C A RO L L A N C E L LOT I

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Leticia Stock as Clara, Tristan Dyer as Hans Peter and Artists of The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photographed by Karolina Kuras

What should it be like to live the Nutcracker

Leticia Stock is First Artist of the Royal Ballet

season in big companies around the world? I

in London and also danced The Nutcracker

invited two Brazilian dancers who spend their

at

Christmas in the Snow Kingdom and Land of

Gaglianone is a corypheus at the Bolshoi

Sweets to try to feel and translate a little of

Theater in Moscow. Both have different and

this experience.

very rich experiences with the ballet theme

the

Joffrey

Ballet

in

Chicago.

Bruna


of this edition. It made me want to travel and

Leticia defines the season as tiring, but very

live The Nutcracker around the world! Next, I

gratifying. “It’s a tough season, we’re always

share your enchanted stories.

playing several roles in the same show, but we are always very happy. The company gets

“We danced The Nutcracker at the end of the

into the Christmas spirit, we decorate our

year, and this ballet really carries all the magic

dressing rooms ... And, on December 24,

with it. Here, people dream of watching The

the Snowflakes throw glitter; we always do

Nutcracker on the 31st of December, as they

something different. It is very special!”

celebrate the “arrival” of Santa Claus on the 31st, since the Orthodoxs do not celebrate Christmas on the 24th. And, on the 31st, the tickets are sold at very high prices! A seat in the audience can reach about US$ 1,300! And do you know what is most impressive? It always runs out really fast!” - says Bruna, who says that Moscow changes during Christmas. - The whole city is decorated; some main streets are closed and with special programs for the people. At the Theater, we dance more than 20 shows!”

“Clara tells the story. The story is hers. She grows up and changes. The role has a little bit of everything: pas de deux, solo, a lot of acting, watching others on stage... It’s a role that really teaches us a lot.” LETICIA STOCK

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Aurora

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The two dancers’ first contact with The Nutcracker

They are all very beautiful.” - she comments. Bruna, on

was, of course, when they were young students: “The

the other hand, says that she likes Yuri Grigorovich’s

first contact I had with this ballet was at the Bolshoi

version very much: “it is very classic, all dolls dance

School in Brazil, when Vladimir Vasiliev, one of the

on pointe, Masha is the same dancer in all acts ...”.

most famous principal dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet,

Yes, in Russia, Clara, as she is known in England and

restaged that ballet for the school” says Bruna. Leticia

also in Brazil, is called Masha. In the United States,

even comments on the beauty and the particularity

Marie. Regardless of the name, one thing does not

of growing up with this ballet: “You start like as one

change: she is the heroine of the story. “Clara tells the

of the little children in the first act, then you move

story. The story is hers. She grows up and changes.

on to the corps de ballet… It is a ballet that you

The role has a little bit of everything: pas de deux,

dance from beginning to end and get to, as a dancer,

solo, a lot of acting, watching others on stage ... It’s a

evolve within it. It is very important for the dancers’

role that really teaches us a lot. It is really cool to play

career; a complete ballet! The first time I danced

a role in which at each scene you need to interpret

was at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, in

as if it were the first time you are seeing that. And

Dalal Achcar’s version. I played one of the mice, in

even when you’ve been with the company for a long

the first act, and one of the candies from the second

time, you’ve already done Clara several times and you

act, and Louise, Clara’s sister in that version. It was

already know what’s going to happen, playing with

a very special moment in my life”. – she completes.

the “everything like it’s the first time” feeling is very

Leticia’s experience is vast and involves everything

special. ” – she finishes. That this Christmas, we can

from Snowflakes, when she was still at the Royal Ballet

watch The Nutcracker as if it were the first time.

School, to the main character, Clara. In Moscow, Bruna also collects memorable roles in this ballet: “Here, I have already danced one of the Snowflakes, the first act doll, which we call “Devil”, the Arabian Doll, the Spanish Doll and the waltz soloist.”

What about the different versions? There are so many around the world, each with its own particularities, although the basis of the story is the same, as Leticia

“The whole city is decorated; some main streets are closed and with special programs for the people. At the Theater, we dance more than 20 shows!” BRUNA GAGLIANONE

observed: “And I think each version has its own value.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Lancelloti has been an adult ballerina for 11 years. Creator, Communicator and passionate about ballet stories, she created Aurora magazine to share them with the world.


The Nutcracker

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Bruna Gaglianone as Spanish Doll and Arabic Doll at the Bolshoi Theater. Personal archives.



enchanted kingdom M A R LO N S A L E S A N D T R I S L A N E M A RT I N S P H OTO G R A P H E D BY C A RO L L A N C E L LOT I B E AU T Y : RO B E RT TA C H A P I M COSTUMES: ALBERTINI COSTUMES A N D AT E L I Ê VA N E S S A B A L L E T




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Sets: Jessica Lacerda, Carol Lancelloti and Maria Fernanda Rocha. Production assistants: Jessica Lacerda and Alexandre Prates.


The Nutcracker: the music of Tchaikovsky’s last ballet BY HELENA OLIVEIRA CORREA

Tradition in theaters and concert programs around the world and in year-end recitals, the ballet The Nutcracker composed and orchestrated by the Russian composer of the romantic period P.I. Tchaikovsky is emblematic, being a work, such as the “A. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons” or the “L. Van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony”, which is able to cross the centuries and continue to enjoy a unique popularity. The reason for this popularity, when it comes to music, is for a number of reasons. Whether for its unforgettable melodies like “Waltz - 32 -

of Flowers” and “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” or for the captivating orchestration and instrumentation created by the composer, it is a fact that, even without being part of a complete production with dancers, costumes and scenery, the music of Tchaikovsky for ballet is capable of being the highlight of any concert these days, wherever the piece is performed. In addition to being presented in its fully staged and choreographed version, which has about 90 minutes, the ballet also had its music compiled in what we call a suite, where entire numbers of the full version as variations and waltzes are interpreted individually, in a compilation. The “The Nutcracker” ballet suite Op. 71a is one of three suites selected and published throughout the life of the acclaimed composer and was organized in 8 numbers containing, among others, the “Russian Dance - Trepak”, the “Chinese Dance” and the “Arabian Dance “, compiled in January and February 1892.


“The Nutcracker is extremely popular in the period of year-end musical and dance performances with the classic and bold beauty of its melody, making this work immortal and making Tchaikovsky the most successful Russian composer. popular of all time.” Piotr

Ilyitch

Tchaikovsky

had

a

great

and

composer who still had his work recognized in

triumphant life, despite his personal conflicts

Russia and achieved international fame, toured

and problems such as the depression that

Europe and the United States, created ties with

afflicted him after his mother’s early death and

influential figures in the Imperial Court, he was

controversies about his personal life, dying of

protected from dukes and developed a close

cholera at 53 and having as close family members

friendship with Alexander III, which guaranteed

who accompanied him to his last breath, his

him an excellent government pension until the

brothers Modest and Nikolay Tchaikovsky and his

end of his life.

beloved nephew Vladimir Davydov. A prolific composer, Tchaikovsky composed some Born on May 7, 1840 in the small town of

of the most illustrious works in Western music

Votkinsky, an industrial city in the Republic of

and his extensive orchestral repertoire stands

Udmurtia, in the Ural Mountains, he is the second

out in this extensive catalog, especially the 4th

son of Ilyia Petrovich Tchaikovsky and Aleksandra

and 5th Symphony and the 1812 Overture; his

Andreyevna Tchaikovsky, having his first contacts

piano concerts and his fantastic Concerto for

with music within the family (his parents had

Violin and Orchestra in D Major, op. 35; his opera

an early musical education) and later, at the

Evgeni Onegin and of course, his three ballets:

age of five, he started piano lessons with his

Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

first musical mentor, pianist Mariya Palchikova. In 1865, he graduated from the prestigious

At the end of 1890, Tchaikovsky had his first

Conservatory of St. Petersburg at a time when

deliberations on a new ballet and an opera

professional opportunities for Russian musicians

with Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the director of the

were difficult to reach, however, still in 1865, he

Russian Imperial Theaters who commissioned

moved to Moscow where he began his work as

them after the success of his latest recent

a harmony teacher, at the institution soon to be

creations: the ballet Sleeping Beauty and opera

known as Moscow Conservatory. Although he

A Queen of Spades. Early in the following year,

faced many changes at the beginning of his career,

in February 1891, Tchaikovsky already received

Tchaikovsky’s musical life is admirable, being a

the manuscript of the choreography of the first

Foto de Milena Pontes

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Aurora

act of the new ballet from the hands of the legendary

should play, as well as recommendations for performers,

Russian dancer and choreographer Marius Petipa.

as in the beautiful “Snowflake Waltz” at the end of the

The Nutcracker ballet was born there, based on the

first act, where the composer includes a small 24-voice

Christmas novel by the German author E.T.A. Hoffmann,

choir preferably young women, 12 sopranos and 12

Der Nußknacker und Mausekönig (The Nutcracker and

contraltos.

the Mouse King), adapted by Alexandre Dumas in a short

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story called “The Story of a Nutcracker”. This material

With the completion of the composition on March 23,

was the inspiration for the ballet libretto, simplifying the

the date noted on the original score and the various

tale in a ballet in two acts and three scenes. Tchaikovsky

adjustments made to perfectly fit the music in the

started composing music for ballet in St. Petersburg and

duration and character desired by the choreographer,

briefly stopped working on The Nutcracker because of

the successful première of the ballet in a double

his tour of the United States where he was invited to

session with the presentation of the opera Iolanta,

conduct Carnegie Hall’s inaugural concerts. Tchaikovsky

on December 18, 1892 at Teatro Imperial Mariinksy,

composed some excerpts from the ballet in Ruen, France

conducted by Riccardo Drigo and produced by Lev

and at his home in the Russian village of Frolovskoye, a

Ivanov, choreographer and assistant to Petipa, despite

country stronghold where he also composed the music

occasional criticisms regarding the performance of solo

for the ballet Sleeping Beauty and his Symphony no. 5.

dancers, but with praise for Tchaikovsky’s music.

The instrumentation (quality and quantity of instruments

Since then, famous orchestras and conductors have

selected for the orchestra in a given work) chosen by

produced phonographic records of the work, whether

Tchaikovsky is voluminous, as was typical in the romantic

from the suite or the complete ballet. And, obviously,

period. A great suit of strings, with violins, violas, cellos,

due to its Christmas theme, The Nutcracker is extremely

double basses and two more harps. In the wood suit,

popular in the period of year-end musical and dance

a robust number of instruments, with transverse flutes,

performances with the classic and bold beauty of

piccolos, clarinets and bass clarinet, oboes and English

its melody, making this work immortal and making

horn. A complete brass suit with groups of trumpets,

Tchaikovsky the most successful Russian composer.

trombones, French horns and tuba and a large range of

popular of all time.

instruments for the percussion suit, including some toy instruments such as rattles, drums, cuckoos and other atypical instruments in a symphony orchestra in order to convey the atmosphere intended by the composer for the libretto. A notable instrument in this work is the celesta, an instrument visually and mechanically similar to the piano, with a keyboard and strings, but which produces a unique, sweet and delicate sound of bells for which Tchaikovsky composed the melody of the

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

“Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”. Tchaikovsky left very

Helena Oliveira Correa is a Music Teacher, Professional Violinist

clear instructions on how and when certain instruments

and Amateur Ballerina and holds a BA in Music from UFRGS.


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Fairy Godmother BY C A RO L L A N C E L LOT I

- 36 -

Cecília Kerche with Francisco Timbó at Teatro São Pedro, in Porto Alegre. Pas de Deux Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.

Inspiration for many dancers, Cecília Kerche

has marked her life and career and, in this

is a reference for Brazilian and world ballet.

interview, she shares her experiences. In times

Dance Ambassador for the Brazilian Dance

of pandemic, the interview was carried out at

Council and official representative of Brazil

distance, virtually - which has not diminished

at the UNESCO Conseil International de La

Cecília’s brightness and welcoming energy,

Danse, the former Principal Dancer of the

which became even deeper in every detail, in

Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro danced

every memory and in every advice, like a true

the ballet The Nutcracker in practically all

Fairy Godmother for new generations.

roles and in several productions. This ballet


La Sylphide

Do you remember your first contact with the

some point in their lives

ballet The Nutcracker? He came with this mission of bringing this Yes, it was here at the Theatro Municipal, I

transcendental music. I believe Tchaikovsky,

was already a member of the corps de ballet.

along with Chopin and Beethoven, was one

It was the first ballet I ever danced as a soloist.

the greatest geniuses we had. Of course, there

But its music came much earlier, in my school

are many others. But these are, in my opinion,

days. It is a music that is part of the collective

very complete, complex and have inspired so

unconscious, it is like the music of Swan Lake,

many other great composers!

or like the Waltz of Sleeping Beauty. Many people still consider The Nutcracker

“The Sugar Plum Fairy variation, which seems endless, is so delicate that it leaves the audience unaware of its complexity. The public thinks it is a child’s play for the Principal Dancer.”

to be a ballet for children. There is a certain prejudice and I, who love this ballet, even get a little upset about it. Despite having many complex and very rich choreographies, there are people who still consider only “a ballet for children”. What is your personal relationship with this ballet? What meaning does it have for you and your career?

This ballet was based on a Christmas tale Indeed, Tchaikovsky’s compositions are very

for children by Hoffman, but it is a children’s

popular. He is the “rock star” of classical

tale that speaks of love, hope, joy... These are

ballet and even those who do not know ballet

themes that touch all ages. It is a ballet that

have heard some of Tchaikovsky’s works at

reminds us of our childhood and that is why,

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Aurora

- 38 -

Cecília Kerche and Marcelo Gomes at TMRJ, 2002. Snow Queen Pas de Deux.


The Nutcracker

perhaps, it has been labeled as a “ballet for children”.

I arrived at TMRJ at the beginning of the 1982 season

But it is not, it is a story of the struggle of Good against

and, in that year, The Nutcracker wasn’t performed. It

Evil. Then, love wins all. And it is a ballet that has

was in 1983 that I participated in it for the first time.

always enchanted me a lot because of this possibility

I always thought that the magic of being on stage was

of reaching all audiences! I danced shows for schools,

what mattered, playing whatever role it was. As I said,

nursing homes, I danced for a mixed audience, of

some days I was just going to be a party guest and

young people and older people ... So, it is a ballet

that was fine. Those were effervescent years for the

that opens this possibility for dancers to be in contact

company! Great dancers were invited to dance with

with a very diverse audience. When parents take their

the corps de ballet, we had at least 20 performances

children to the theater for the first time to watch a

of The Nutcracker per season. It was a ballet that made

ballet, it is usually The Nutcracker, not Swan Lake. The

the whole company appear on stage. It was fun to see

family’s first contact with dance is with this tale. So,

every time a different audience, and exciting to feel

I believe that it is a ballet in which most dancers feel

what the show brought to them. And yes, I danced the

rewarded for dancing it. And not just in the main role.

Leskova version too, which was a dramatically different

In The Nutcracker, I´ve danced almost every role! In the

conception from the Dalal’s and, in Leskova’s, I played

version that is staged here at the Theatro Municipal,

Clara’s sister. The Sugar Plum Fairy was Clara’s sister.

I already played one of the guests at the Christmas

I also danced Ben Stevenson’s version with the English

party, the hostess... I just haven’t played yet Mother

National Ballet from 1993 to 2000, in which I played

Ginger (laughs). It was magical! Each day put on a

the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. I spent a lot

different costume, change the makeup. On one day I

of time touring England. In 15 days, we did 16 shows

was an Arabian dancer, on the other the Spanish one…

with crowded houses! There were double shows from

Waltz of the Flowers, Snow Queen and then, Sugar

Monday thru Saturday. Therefore, The Nutcracker has

Plum Fairy. They are characters that made me grow as

been present in my career for many years!

an artist and made this diversity possible, because I needed to interpret each character correctly.

Do you have a favorite version of this work? Not necessarily one that you danced.

It’s great to hear from great dancers like you, that it’s important to go through all the roles. This is very valid

In fact, I have parts that I like more about each other.

for the new generations and shows how important it

I love the Waltz of the Flowers of the Bolshoi, which

is for a dancer to dive deeper into a work, to get

connects with the pas de deux. I also love the version

to know it completely. What you said got to my next

of Mariinsky with those four knights, the Nutcracker

question. The Nutcracker was staged at the Theatro

Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy ... that’s beautiful!

Municipal in Rio de Janeiro in 1981, and you became

There is a version of the American Ballet Theater,

Principal Dancer in 1986. What are your memories of

which was even restaged by Mikhail Baryshnikov, who

that time and of the productions by Dalal Achcar and

had the most luxurious Spanish dance ever! I really like

Tatiana Leskova?

the part of the mice here at the Theatro Municipal do


Aurora

Rio de Janeiro, Dalal’s choreography, because the kids

the steps well. So, it is important that you have a great

have a lot of fun! Mrs. Tânia’s (Leskova) Snowflakes

familiarity and intimacy with music. If possible, sleep

were fantastic!

listening to the music! And you must be prepared in advance to dance this Grand Pas de Deux. It is not the

That’s true. Each part of each different version has

pas de deux that prepares you.

its special touch. And what about your preparation

- 40 -

before the season? Did you have any specific, physical

Finally, Cecília, would you like to leave a message

or psychological preparation in order to dance a role

or other general advice for those who dream of a

like that of the Sugar Plum Fairy?

professional career in classical ballet?

It is a long pas de deux. Here at Theatro Municipal, it

I want to say that you, young people, do not limit your

is seven minutes long! And the variation, which seems

careers just by dancing on stage. Always keep in mind

endless, is so delicate that it leaves the audience

that preparation in class and rehearsals, but especially

unaware of its complexity. The public thinks it is a

in class. If you are having auditions, what you are going

child’s play for the Principal Dancer. And I always

to do is a class. If you do not know how to take a class,

rehearsed the pas de deux, the variation and the coda

correctly, with the positions, with the combinations,

together, so I could work on my endurance. They are

there is no use. There is no point in arriving with the

extremely bright, and you need to match your dance

pas de deux from The Nutcracker ready because, first,

with what that beautiful pas de deux music asks for.

you are going to take a class in front of the artistic

It is not for the weak, by any means. Getting the job

director and others. And if the director is captivated

right from the start was very hard.

by you, he may even ask if you have any pas de deux or variation to show to them and then you dance. But

And what advice would you give to a dancer who has just been given the responsibility of dancing this role for the first time?

We were handed the baton to perpetuate this classic work. So, first of all, you need to research. You need to study, to know when the work was composed, with what objective, if it was a partnership between the choreographer and the composer, who were the first ones to dance it... It is also necessary to have a lot of knowledge of music. It is not easy! You need to be aware that the Coda happens after more than two minutes of variation with minimal rest. The attention needs to be focused on the music, in order to distribute

know that class is your calling card.


The Nutcracker

“We were handed the baton to perpetuate this classic work. So, first of all, you need to research.”

- 41 -

Cecília Kerche and Denis Vieira at TMRJ, 2012. Pas de Deux Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier.


Snow


Dream T R I S L A N E M A RT I N S P H OTO G R A P H E D BY C A RO L L A N C E L LOT I B E AU T Y : RO B E RT TA C H A P I M CROWN: ALBERTINI COSTUMES TUTU: PERSONAL COLLECTION




Sets: Jessica Lacerda, Carol Lancelloti and Maria Fernanda Rocha. Production assistants: Jessica Lacerda and Alexandre Prates.



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CAROL LANCELLOTI CHIEF EDITOR, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, DESIGNER & PHOTOGRAPHER

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