Nutcracker: NOW

in Arts/Dance/O & P Highlights by

Yesterday I saw the first Christmas food in the grocery store. Is it me, or does it start earlier each year?

I used to do visual display for a department store and we would start decorating at the beginning of October. It would take the whole month to do the entire store. I think we started in the teen department, or was it cosmetics? I can’t remember anymore, but I remember that by Halloween, I would have happily dressed as a Christmas tree because I was well and truly sick of it. That did, however, give me November to recover and allowed me to get my sparkle back on in time for December.

As you can imagine, when I saw the first Leipzig Ballet premiere of the season was the Nutcracker, I thought, “No way am I going to see that in September.” Not to mention that being from the States, when I hear “Nutcracker”, I think of an uninspired Christmas production full of kids from local dance schools. Frankly, I have seen my fair share of that.

But my dear friend is moving away and we won’t see each other this holiday, so we decided to go together. I don’t know if it was that or the set that made me feel a bit Christmassy despite it being so early. Or maybe it was the costumes.

My holidays here are so different from the ones where I used to decorate and get dressed up for parties. I haven’t had a tree in over ten years now. That life seems so far away.

This Nutcracker had me feeling a bit homesick and nostalgic.

One reason set designer Yoko Seyama chose white for the first set was to create a blank canvas for people to project their version of the holidays on to. It comes complete with a huge tree made of tulle and white lights.

Alexandar Noshpal, the costume designer, wasted no energy in creating one of a kind, highly detailed taffeta party dresses for the guests in the opening scene. There is no skimping on fabric as each is crinolined to the hilt to make for a very 50s luxuriousness. Though crinolines date back to the time of the original story written in 1816, Alexandar wanted to create clothing wearable for our time. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the long dinner jackets on the men dancing with the women in the party dresses. You can totally see his background in haute couture.

After the break, it just kept coming. From the elastic bands that dripped light, to the gold foil origami-like crystals that engulfed the stage; from the Rat King to the storybook characters, the set and costumes just got more and more creative and sexy while Jean-Philippe Dury’s choreography enjoyed the versatility of the dancer’s capabilities.

Yoko wanted something organic and yet modern.

In the end the basic element of snowflakes, crystals, were used as a connecting point throughout. For the polygons in the second scene, the set building team of the Leipzig Oper made 2000 MDF triangles and covered them in gold foil.

I really feel like a new barre has been set. Maybe I’ll even go again, closer to the holidays.

Leipzig Ballet Nutcraker by Jean-Philippe Dury 2017

Sun 19 Nov
1,5,6,18,19,20,23,25 Dec

Maeshelle West-Davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums. Sound, video, photography, dance, performance and public art are the tools she uses to convey her message. Her work is a response not only to a physical journey, but an emotional one, as with all of us who walk along or beside our individual paths.

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