Saturday, December 10, 2011

WALTZ OF THE SNOWFLAKES

Christmas season ... otherwise known as "Nutcracker" season for ballet lovers.  It's a rite of passage for many young ballerinas in ballet schools.  I've heard some say it's the only ballet they've ever seen -- part of their family Christmas tradition, much like watching "It's A Wonderful Life" while sipping hot cocoa.

I have done a few Nutcrackers. This year though, I've been otherwise occupied and had to drop my participation.  Nutcracker season entails rehearsals beginning in September, not including the requisite ballet classes during the week.  We dancers used to joke -- though it was no joke -- that we saw each other in rehearsals more than we did our husbands.  Let's put it this way.  Mine hated Nutcracker season.


Me, in Swan costume, for our studio photo 3 years ago
It was as close as I could get to the Snowflake costume!
Original Photo: Jun Yang Photography
Edited Photo: The Foolish Aesthete

But back to the magic of E.T. A. Hoffman and Tchaikovsky.  One of my favorite scenes is the "Waltz of the Snowflakes".  Tchaikovsky's tinkling celestas (I think), harps, triangles and angelic chorus simply transport Clara and the audience to a world of fairies and snow.  For dancers, this is perhaps the most exhausting dance -- about eight minutes of fluttering runs and leaps.  I find ballet jumps far more intense than aerobic class jumping!

An old Baryhshnikov version of "The Nutcracker" Snowflake scene, with Gelsey Kirkland as Clara

I used to attend class at Steps on Broadway in NYC.  Baryshnikov, even in his 50s, would sometimes be in the same class (he was friends with the Russian ballet teacher).  He would have us all enthralled, eyes wide with disbelief that we were dancing on the same floor as this Legend.  I practically tripped over his ballet gear on the floor when he took the spot next to me at the barre! He he, Clutzy Ballerina here.


We are seeing another Holiday ballet show tomorrow.  Not The Nutcracker, but one full of snowflakes and magic as well, put on by a friend and her ballet school.  I'm sure I'll have more Nutcracker-related posts over the next few weeks.  Some may include collaborative photography with another Blogger friend.  Stay tuned, and really, enjoy the Magic of the Season!

What are your Christmas traditions?

28 comments:

  1. You look beautiful in the costume! As always, I give you major props for doing this aka ballet! My friend used to dance as well and she is always telling me stories.. Sounds hard but is truly a magical experience when you watch it..

    All the best, ~Angel

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  2. It is a magic time. I love the building up to Christmas the best.
    Thank you for the present of these images.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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  3. I'm ashamed to say that I have never seen The Nutcracker. Swan Lake is my favourite and it has always been on at the same time as The Nutcracker when we've decided to see a ballet. It was always my choice, so I chose Swan Lake. I've seen it a few times now... The next one will definitely be The Nutcracker!!!

    http://www.sheer-heart.com/

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  4. Fantastic post. Personally I like the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy best.

    Christmas traditions: Fondue and afterwards a game of dice on christmas eve. And a waffle with vanilla cream on the christmas market before christmas.

    Have a great week.

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  5. Wow oh wow what a beautiful swan you are. And I am sure you would be an equally beautiful snowflake. Thank you for the clip. I can so see why snowflake jumping would be so much more exhausting than mere aerobics. Xxxx

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  6. Now I feel REALLY festive - seeing that sumptuous photo of you in full swan/snowflake glory. it makes me want to go and whirl around the garden in an attempt to persuade the relentless rain to turn to snow.
    AND hearing you were in the same room, the class as the legendary Baryshnikov!
    For us Christmas proper begins when my brother and I unwrap the box of Christmas decorations and greet old friends - in the form of cross-eyed reindeer, glass angels and decorations he and I made when we were little. It's a great tradition - a precious hour or so whilst listening to carols.

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  7. I love the nutcracker, how come that your hubby doesn't like it?? And look at you dressed as the white swan.....I am speachless, you look so beautiful. And then you also placed in your post that version of my favorite dancer ever: Baryhshnikov.......I have a crush on him, he is amazingly gorgeous when he dance 8and he is still dancing)...

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  8. this looks magical..thank you for your words of..christmas means lots of fruit cake in our house!

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  9. Sounds like a truly wonderful way to spend some holiday time!!
    You look beautiful and elegant in that photo~!!

    xx

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  10. sweet post
    Love your blog
    visit me also please :)

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    XOXO

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  11. You look marvelous..very beautiful, love Swan Lake!! x

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  12. I hope you enjoyed the show. That photo is gorgeous. I always felt so corny for seeing different company's interpretations of "Nutcracker" during the holidays. It is what I most look forward to now. Your extension brings back painful memories of my dancing days : )

    Diego
    www.howtozipyourfly.com

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  13. !!!! : ) I can't believe you've met, been in the presence of, Barynisnikov (sp?) I've always had such a crush on him. I loved when he was on S&tC. Him and Nureyev.. the Nutcracker has such deep emotional resonance for me, personally. At a very young age -I think I was 6, my sister 4, but maybe younger - my parents gave us Christmas presents (from Santa) of the nutcracker album - on stereo - and matching pink satin tutus and shoes. Vivid memories of bright light - snow - this big, modern living room with the beautiful swedish modern built in wall unit with the stereo system, dancing round on a sea of palest blue carpet.. my father took colour slides and I think I have them back in London (just woke in Fla: arrived last night) and now, each time I've seen a performance in London - and I've seen some incredible performances, at Covent Garden, at the Royal Ballet, etc - I just burst into tears at the start of nearly every song. Very primitive, Pavlovian response.

    The auditory equivalent of Proust's mandalins. (and visual, but mainly, the music).

    Sorry to write so much: my mom is on the phone nearby, I'm typing but can barely hear myself think! Can't email - but can receive - is it okay to use any of the versions you've already seen btw? Or should I wait til you post it first? Totally up to you, sweet J! xox

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  14. p.s. My sister now, btw, is mother to a beautiful ballet dancing daughter. She is in the Nutcracker every year at her ballet school. One winter we watched the DVD in Florida: she was a little mouse back then. I just spoke with her a few minutes ago and forgot to ask what Becky's playing this year ; )

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  15. Oh look at you - so beautiful and poised! It's true the Nutcracker is a bit what the Magic Flute is for opera... I loved it so when I was a child... dreaming of being a ballerina able to fly. X

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  16. Hey! Thanks for stopping by to see me :) You look stunning in your swan costume. Would love to have you as a follower & I'm happy to follow back xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

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  17. Oh you look so incredibly lovely! Good for you for making it easier on yourself this season! I hope you enjoy it more than ever!

    http://www.inherentstylela.com/

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  18. I just cannot get over how beautiful you look in that picture.

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  19. Love it!


    ~ x♥x♥ :)
    ~ x♥x♥ :)
    ~ x♥x♥ :)

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  20. You look lovely! One of my best friends was a ballerina (she's now getting her PHD in applied math) We always went to see her and her sister in the nutcracker.

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  21. GORGEOUS and so fun! I love the Nutcracker and ballet in general. It's amazing how strong and graceful ballerinas are at the same time.

    xo chanel
    http://bywayofney.blogspot.com

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  22. beautiful pic of you!!! sorry that i'm commenting all in once, last days were full of work and travels ^^

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  23. you are just divine in your swan costume...

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  24. Ohh what a gorgeous swan you are in this photo! Barishynikov??? I'd have tripped over my pointe shoes too!!

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  25. I LOVE the Baryshnikov version of the Nutcracker!!!

    Thanks for your comment on my blog! I'm going to check out your NYC architectural photos right now!! :)

    Corinne xo

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Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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