Danced by the Ballet Stars of Moscow USA 2017

By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: Symphony Silicon Valley

SAN JOSÉ, CA –  Sponsored by DIANE & LEE BRANDENBURG, from  December 15 to December 24th the sumptuous music of  the Russian composer PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY interpreted by  Symphony Silicon Valley, will resonate inside the walls of the SAN JOSE CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS  during  the several performances of  THE NUTCRACKER ballet, danced by the BALLET STARS OF MOSCOW USA 2017

The Story
Based on HOFFMANN’s fairy tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”  the NUTCRAKER Ballet originated in l816,  when IVAN VSEVOLOZHSKY, the director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg, selected HOFFMANN’s story for his new ballet, composer TCHAIKOWSKY to compose the music for the ballet, and choreographer PETIPA to adapt HOFFMANN's story to the requirements of a dance. The first NUTCRACKER was performed on December 18, l892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in San Petersburg. Russia.

The Plot
The  story of THE NUTCRACKER takes place in Germany, at the  Tannenbauns’s home, during a Christmas party where one of the guests is their daughter's Marie (Clara in other versions) Godfather, Drosselmeyer, a magician, who  gives the girl a wooden nutcracker doll as a gift (This doll is really a Russian prince who was converted to a wooden nutcracker  by the Mouse King)  The “magic” in the story begins at midnight, after all the guest had gone home and Marie returns to her living room, to check her nutcracker doll which had been broken by her brother and was repaired by Drosselmayer.  Alone in the room, she is shocked to see lots of  mice running, watches the Christmas tree getting taller and taller, and observes that Fritz’ toys soldiers came to life and are fighing the mice. In the original story, the Mouse King dies in the battle, and when he does, the enchantment is broken on the nutcracker is broken and the wooden doll becomes a human prince again. To reward Marie (who in the original version of the ballet was the one who destroyed the Mouse King,)  he invites her to go with him on a trip around the world.  The story ends when Marie wakes up and realizes that everything was a dream,  

The dancers in BALLET STARS OF MOSCOW USA 2017
The dancers in the principal roles on Saturday night (12-16) were: EKATERINA BORTYAKOVA as Marie, ANDREY BOLOTIN as the prince, VITALY ZABELIN as Drosselmeyer and VLADIMIR YAKOVLEV as the Mouse King.

The story
Under the Artistic Direction of  MIKAIL BESSMERTNOV, the story danced by the BALLET STARS of MOSCOW, is slightly different that the story of other NUTCRACKERS. Their story also enhances the dance roles of the dancers dancing the roles Drosselmayer and the Mouse King. 

In the first act, of the STAR OF MOSCOW's ballet, Drosselmeyer (ZABELIN) enters the party dressed in black with a purple cape. He does several dances: he has a solo dance, he dances with Marie, and he dances with the guests. As part of his role, he also displays his "gifts" to the children, which include a dancing doll, a mavr and an harlequin. At the end of the toys' performance, he shows the children a puppet show in his Gignol theater (a small portable theatre) where the plot of the story in this ballet is not clear. Drosselmayer appears again in the second act in scenes with Marie and the Prince.

Another difference in the story is that in this ballet  the Mouse King (MIKHAILOV) is not killed in the first act, but re-appears in the second act when Marie is traveling with the Prince, and is killed  in a sword  fight with the prince.  This ballet leaves unclear the reason why the nutcracker doll turned into human in the first act, BEFORE  the King Mouse died and the enchantment that had turned the prince into a wooden doll has been broken.

For those of us who have seen many  previous versions of the NUTCRACKER, the  “BALLET STARS OF MOSCOW’s scenography of the ballet, was disappointing.   With the exception of a Back Drop representing  Marie’ s house living room during the party, and another back drop showing large trees covered by snow, most of the dances were danced in front of a single Back Drop: cream-colored with large blue flowers.

A children’s dance  choreographed by VASILY VAINONEN

The single Back Drop was also used in the second act for the international dances so neither  Arabia, Spain, Russia or China, the countries that Marie visited with the prince, were provided with a visual identification.

In its effects, this ballet lacked “magic.” There was no “special effect” when the nutcracker doll became a living human being, and the Christmas tree “effect”  raising higher and higher lacked imagination.

The choreography of the dances
In  his choreography of the ballet, VASILY VAINONE, had no  action during a good part of the long overture. Close to its end, however, he added people  walking dressed as the guests arriving to the party.  

At the party,  his choreography of all  the assemble dances in the first act: the Walz, the children rounds, the  Trepak (Russian dance) the Quadrille, The march of the soldiers” was creative and all the dances were perfectly synchronized. Visually, in the second act, The Waltz of the Flowers” looked beautiful, but the choreography failed to captivate the audience when all the dancers of the different countries were placed together forming a round and their Arabian, Spanish, Russian and Chinese dances were not only very short but danced as  pas de deux by couples. In most NUT CRACKERS these dances are danced by groups.


The “Dance of the Flowers”

The Music
Under the baton of Maestro GEORGE DAUGHERTY, the music of TCHAIKOVSKY sounded perfectly on time, but to be interpreted for the dancers, the Director needed to do slight changes in both the Volume of the music (to emphasize the steps) and in its  tempo, to be synchronized with the steps of dancers.  On that night, the dances of the Spanish and Chinese couples danced their numbers well but completely out of synchronization  

The Dancing.
All the dancers in BALLET STARS OF MOSCOW USA 2017 are great dancers. Their technique is seamless. On that night, the Grand pas de deux at the end of the ballet danced by BORTYAKOVA with her spinning in punte very fast in her solo and BOLOTIN, jumping masterfully in the air in his solo, was superb

SYMPHONY SILICON VALLEY’S THE NUTCRACKER will continue playing at the Center for Performing Arts, San Jose. until December 24.  To order tickets by phone call (408) 286-2600 or you can go online to