Everybody Hates Fritz

Saw the NYCB Nutcracker on the Big Screen the other day.
Simulcast, ya know.
Here’s some random thoughts:

The party. Is so boring. Seriously, that has got to be the worst party ever, I mean think about if you were a guest at this party: you have to bring a wrapped gift, and that’s, like, already a certain level of Party Anxiety- how much to spend: too much and look like a show off? Too little and look cheap?
No One Offers You Anything To Drink, and the kids are running rough-shod over the whole party, breaking toys, pulling hair, fighting, not a one of those Precious Angels gets disciplined, not even a Time Out. Also, all the kids are the same age. No babies, no sullen pre-teens. Are these Clara and Fritz’s classmates? Are the parents not actually friends?
Bad Party!
And not just this version, it’s always a bad party. Seen versions where extra business is added in, like someone arrives tipsy, someone is slutty, someone has got funny dance moves, it doesn’t help.
Not sure if there’s any way to better edit this party, because it establishes stuff, but it’s for sure a lame-ass way to start the show. Twenty percent of my friends watching it with me fell asleep for this scene.

Mr Adult Beginner leaned over and whispered, “No death is good enough for Fritz.” You know, like when you are watching a movie and there’s a Bad Guy who is so bad that you worry they won’t kill him off in a way that satisfies?

Why do the kids give a damn about a nutcracker after they’ve seen Drosselmyer’s clockwork dancing dolls?
That would be a really fun part to do, I bet. The mechanical ballerina. All robotic yet aiming toward graceful. If I were to pick a character to learn, it would be that.

Interview with some guy during intermission, he explains that Mr. B, as in Balanchine, said that “the tree is the ballerina of Act I”. And I was like, really? ‘Cause if so, you have totally ruined your ballerinas entrance. I mean, Clara encounters full scale mice and soldiers before the tree gets big, which totally ruins the illusion of Clara getting small.

Q.What is a sugar plum?
A. A gross dessert.

This is the first time the Adult Beginner has had any clue who the people dancing were. And I got all my information from YouTube!
Megan Fairchild, the Sugar Plum Fairy, I recognize from that very sweet little movie about pointe shoes, you know, the one where Wendy Whelan helps her get a better fit. Ashley Bouder, Dew Drop, I recognize from that Discount Dance Supply ad with Twitch Boss. Well, ok, and from twitter. And from everywhere. How does one pronounce her name anyway? Boo-der? Bow-der? Boo-dair? Anyone? Tyler Peck I recognize from a tampon ad. No seriously.

Mr. Adult Beginner: what the hell is a mirliton?!
AB: No fucking idea! Candy? Marzipan? Somebody in this show is marzipan. Maybe it’s marzipan. What’s the costume supposed to be, a carousel? Sometimes they are dressed like shepherdesses? Maybe it’s a shepherdess?
Asked twitter later, turns out a mirliton is a toy instrument like a kazoo.
If you google mirliton you also get a lot of squash, especially chayote. So, that’s weird.

Omg Kelly Ripa. Oh girl, do not put a tutu on and take class with the company. Oh, there she goes. I can’t watch. Tell me when it’s over.

Ok, costume designers, I have major beef with you: are you Trying to perpetuate that old stereotype about male dancers? For fucks sake stop putting the men in pink!
Nutcracker turns into a human? Bam! Pink suit. All the little boys who come out from under Mama Ginger’s skirt? Bam! Pink costumes. Granted those were actually girls, but it’s a boy role! Why so much pretty pink? And the Candy Cane. Having to be interviewed all wrapped up in pretty pink and pastel green satin ribbons. Feel for you, man. Why not red? Huh, Karinska? Last candy cane I had was red and white.

An amazing moment in the Sugar Plum Fairy and Sugar Plum Man’s pas de deux: she was on one leg in an arabesque en pointe, and he took her hand and pulled her and she slid along the floor on her pointe! On one leg! Slid! Dudes, never seen such a thing, tried to describe it to Smirnoff and lé Assistant, both baffled.

The hard shell inside of Mama Ginger’s skirt is covered in lipstick kisses. Grossgrossgross.

After the movie, having some thai, talking about the show: “which one was Fritz? Oh, the douchey kid.”

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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24 Responses to Everybody Hates Fritz

  1. Annie To says:

    Omg I thought kelly seemed a little loopy/crazy. Did you seethe little pad that Megan was on? I think there was a cable too. As for the lipstick marks…dude that shiet is disgusting…caked on germs and skin cells. AND maybe I’m being a little sensitive but “Tea” makes me feel a little insulted and seems rascist

    • Waitwaitwait- little pad? You mean when she slid on pointe? It was a trick?! Ug, I’m so let down! Booooooo!
      Yeah, Tea. Makes me feel uncomfortable too. Which is weird because Arabian and Spanish don’t feel nearly as squirm-inducing, and all those dances are supposed to be equally just, like, Presentations Of The Exotic. Why is it that tea is so much worse than the others? The costumes? The hand gestures? What can be done to make it better?

      • Annie says:

        I think it’s the crazy exaggerated makeup/costumes…. They had geisha wigs on with “Chinese” style costumes and the hand gestures are kinda dumb. The other two exotic presentations were more serious and sultry I guess and it just kinda seemed like tea was a joke and poking fun

  2. Andre says:

    Ashly’s name rhymes with “chowder.” That’s how I remember it! There was a movie made of this ballet with Macaulay Culkin in the role of the Nutcracker and Kevin Kline narrating many years ago. The performances in Act 2 are astounding, and you can show your friends the slidey pointe bit, too!

  3. MC says:

    First, hello! I’ve never commented on your blog before, but I read it all the time and get a big kick out of your ballet adventures. :)

    Second, I saw the simulcast last night and enjoyed it a lot. But I agree, the party scene is largely dull in all the productions I’ve seen, dancing dolls excepted. When I watch The Nutcracker on DVD I always skip ahead to the snowflakes at the end of Act I, then watch Act II. I want to see dancing, not kids running around being bratty! That I get plenty of at my family holiday parties. I gasped when the Sugarplum Fairy was pulled along in that move you described. What was that? It was a great moment and totally unexpected.


  4. Mother Ginger was always my favorite part. I was SCANDALIZED when my mom told me she was played by a dude! I was like five or something and it totally shook my entire worldview.

  5. chrisgo says:

    Wow, Annie is right, the tea dancrs are as racist as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And yes, enough with pink costumes for the fellas.

  6. GG says:

    For a close-up on the Sugar Plum Fairy’s little helper, skip to 1:43 of this behind-the-scenes video from a few years ago at the New York Times. http://video.nytimes.com/video/2007/12/20/arts/1194817097884/the-nutcrackers-2-000th-performance.html

    • Hadn’t looked at the video until just now, because iPad wasn’t having it, had to go to the Big Computer.
      Why, NYCB? Why?? Why you gotta trick me like that?? Why not just give me some good honest dancing???
      Thank you for sharing, GG, guess it was too awesome to be true. Gonna go find my NYCB season schedule now and give it a Disapproving Look.

  7. Johanna says:

    I have to agree on the Party from Hell and the excess of Pink for the Mens. If I could re-design the set and costumes, I would ditch the candy canes in favor of salmiak. Black, salty, delish liquorice. It’s a national addiction here in Finland. You could lure (Finnish) boys into ballet on salmiak alone!

    Have you seen PNB’s Nut photos? Lucky company had Maurice Sendak of design their set. Coincidentally, “Where the Wild Things Are” was my favorite book in childhood. And the Wild Things could get rid of Fritz! ;)

    About the Slide. Hmppfh. Have done that trick in pointe class. Without Prince or FX. Seriously, once I piquéd onto arabesque from too far away and slid about 15 cm straight ahead – without toppling over! It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Hilarious.

    • Ooooh! Likeing this salmiak idea! Black costumes with big square crystals here and there? Like salt crystals? Yum!
      Have not seen the PNB Sendak Nutcracker, but I have the book! Wrote a post about it too. Love that book. Think I’ll go look at it right now.
      But wait- you’ve done this slide thing? Un-assisted?! Hey ballerina!

    • Kaija says:

      Johanna, I adore salmiak as well…my mother always sends some in my Christmas package and I always look forward to it :) So yummy and special….

  8. Janet says:

    Have you figured out what a Mirliton is (in the Nutcracker) Nobody looked like a kazoo. I went to see SF Ballet’s Nutcracker Thursday evening. Nothing in the program listed Mirliton, yet one of the dancers tweeted that she was one. So I ask: What is a Mirliton?

  9. Kaija says:

    Love your review! I DVRed the rebroadcast of the NYCB Nutcracker from a US station and am looking forward to watching it this weekend or next week…my holiday vacation treat! I have seen the “merliton” piece listed as “Dance of the Reed Pipes” before…maybe one of those artistic license/interpretation things? Lost in translation/time? And amen to the sort of racist Chinese dance…though “Arabian” kinda makes me squirm too. It seems like the “sexy harem girl dance” or the “walk like an Egyptian” dance (don’t like those angled frieze arms in some choreography). But I suppose that what now looks like stereotyping or exotic Othering was just a reflection of the times when the original ballet was produced. I agree on the awfulness of Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, which is one of my fav movies for the lovely dresses and Audrey Hepburn. Likewise is another old B&W Christmas classic movie, “Holiday Inn” with Irving Berlin…there’s an actual blackface song-and-dance number in it and I just can’t even watch it!

    I saw the National Ballet of Canada’s Nutcracker this week and though I loved the sets, the costumes, and some twists–like setting the party scene in a barn, with more character costumes and dance and children playing the hayloft, a pair of dancing bears (one on skates and one in pointe shoes!), and Uncle Nikolai arriving on a sled full of gifts and magic toys instead of stuffy Victorian living rooms and Drosselmayer, I did not like the choreography in general…not very musical and seemed out of sync with the gorgeous score. I don’t require ballet to literally “interpret the music” but it should have some flow and not seem like two completely unrelated tracks! Also they dressed the girls in costumey petal dresses for Waltz of the Flowers and the men all in green, as if they were supposed to be “stems” for the flowers but they looked like a passel of Jolly Green Giants. Meh…I know there are many versions, but this one wasn’t my favorite. Still, the dancing was superb and it is always fun to dress up and go to the ballet.

    And how fun to compare and contrast and critique with other ballet fans! We have opinions! :)

  10. O'Fla says:

    Mirlitons are sometimes also called “small, reed flutes”, as well as a “tube-shaped pastry”; so – take your pick. :)

    I have not seen the production of NYCB recently; just a tape of one with Baryshnikov and Kirkland. That whole production seemed a bit “pale” with too much pastel for the theme and the music. Or maybe it was the tape. ;)

    My own kids (now grown, both dancers) used to LOVE watching the party scene – on tape. (we did not live in a place where they could have seen Nutcracker live) We had the Nureyev version from the Paris Opera Ballet. My children loved it mainly because there were children dancing and there was a more accessible story-line to follow.
    I guess it must be a generational thing, as to what appeals to whom.
    Your point about all the children in the scene being the same age is a good one! If I ever have the chance to put on Nutcracker, I will take that into account!

  11. Mattie says:

    Ok, so I just saw the Boston Ballet’s production of the nutcracker, which was absolutely wonderful, but contained neither marzipan or mirlitons, but a “pastorale” dance, where Danish shepherdesses and adorable children dressed as lambs danced with small reed flutes. So, here’s what I think is going on. The dance of the reed flutes is supposed to be Danish, thus the sheep(?) and the mirlitons may refer to the actual instrumentation of the music, which is all flute-y and reed-y. I think marzipan may have come about as an attempt to make them fit in the land of sweets, but obviously this is just a hypothesis. Either way, this seems to be a dance that gives a lot of artistic freedom, which is cool!

    • Caitlyn says:

      I just saw the Boston Ballet production as well, and the first thing I noticed was that the party scene was not boring, compared to others I’ve seen, but maybe that was just me. The aww-inducing moment of the kids dressed as sheep was totally adorable (and the black sheep!).

      Totally agreed on the original point about the NYCB costumes, though, especially the Candy Cane. Ugh.

      • Mattie says:

        I actually almost cried from the adorableness of the little black sheep, always just a count behind the others. Killed me dead.

  12. rach3 says:

    Hello (from Down Under)! I just found your blog, and I can’t stop laughing :) Couple of things:
    1: The Chinese dance is indeed cringetastic, no matter whose production it is. Then again, maybe Spanish and Russian people also look at their “national dance” sequences and cringe…
    2: I can’t find any videos online, but if you get a chance to, check out Graeme Murphy’s version of Nutcracker (Story of Clara). It’s a whole different retelling, of one elderly ex-Ballets Russes ballerina’s flashback dream. No Fritz, I promise.

    Thanks again for a very entertaining read, and keep dancing!

  13. Pingback: Adult Beginner, where have you been? | Adult Beginner

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