With a title that long I hardly feel the urge to write anything… except that I must explain to you a bit more why I wrote what I did.
So let me begin with a confession. I actually don’t have anything to say about the Sochi Olympics- except maybe as a reference to the fact that it was the origin of one of the two streams of thought that led me to revisiting some old music and memories. Good to get that out of the way.
Have you ever wondered if there could be one song to represent your life? Something that could be an anthem or a kind of leitmotif? I actually don’t have one that fits the bill but I have had another thought. When my life comes to an end- I’d like it to come to an end to the music of the finale of the Nutcracker. It really is beautiful and grand and has all the actors in the performance coming in and doing a little summary dance at the end. Here’s a video from youtube that shows you what I’m talking about- the choreography is not the most spectacular I’ve seen but it’s still great (considering it was the first vid I found on youtube)
I think I would be lying if I said the Nutcracker was my favourite ballet, but I’ve had the chance to see it live more often than any other ballet (primarily because I always visit the US over Christmas and there is no other ballet that is on then).
I’ve had memorable experiences watching it though- the first time I sat very close to the stage and you hear the thumps of the the ballerinas making contact with the ground- thump thump thump. From far away it looks like they float in the air but up close you realise how much more earthy ballet is than most other activities. Also one horrible moment when the girl acting as the lead (Clara) actually missed her step and fell. There was a collective gasp but she recovered quite quickly. I always feel very nervous that the performers would make a mistake- what concern is it of mine seriously?
I think it is one of those works that has been commercialised and kitsched more than others- the music pilfered for everything from chocolates to cars (I actually don’t know if it has been used for cars but you get the drift). But music gets used and popularised only when it is lovely. And there is no denying the fact that the Nutcracker has some excellent bits of music in it.
One of the loveliest is the pas de deux between the sugar plum fairy and her cavalier but the best interpretation I’ve seen of it is actually not in a ballet but in figure skating. A few years ago I discovered by accident a video of two Chinese figure skaters skating to the pas de deux. What they do I think is the essence of art (though here it is in the framework of competitive sport)- once again they make it look so breezy and so ethereal but the easier it looks the more effort it probably needed. So here’s Shen and Zhao for you (the commentators yakking is an annoyance- bear with it for the sake of the figure skating)
So don’t you agree that the world would have been slightly less happier without this bit of art in it?