06 December 2009

Christmas traditions

It seems that Boston's the Slutcracker is being called the "Latest Assault on Christmas: Sexualized Version of “Nutcracker”, including transsexuality and sado-masochism". Nevermind E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Nutcracker and Mouseking" (the Source of the Nutcracker's story) addresses Clara's sexual awakening. US performances shy away from this since they usually have real children and try to make the performance cute, which is why I hate seeing US performances of the Ballet (Well, except The Mark Morris Dance Group's Hard Nut, but I saw that a the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels: does that count???). The actual story is fairly scary since Drosselmeyer is portrayed as a sinister figure which is something that European versions of the ballet tend to show.

For those who don't know the Story, Princess Perlipat is a beautiful little girl. Unfortunately, the family runs afoul of the mouse queen who turns Pirlipat into an ugly creature. The only way to cure Pirlipat was to feed her the nut Crackatook. Drosselmeyer is sent to find a person who can perform the task and travels the world, only to find that the person in question is Drosselmeyer's nephew. Unfortunately, no sooner is Pirlipat cured than the Nephew is cursed by the mousequeen and becomes the nutcracker and the ungrateful princess refuses to marry him. Marie/Clara then swears that she would love the nephew no matter how he looks and breaks the curse.

Of course, that condensation doesn't get deeply into Marie/Clara's sexual awakening, but I don't feel like rewriting the story: especially since you can read it here.

It seems that the Slutcracker is a X rated version of the Nutcracker with burlesque and can-can dancers, drag kings, hoopers, ballerinas, acrobats, bellydancers, actors and actresses and where our young dreamer Clara finds a sex toy waiting for her under the Christmas tree. It leads her to a kinky-freaky-sexy land where she discovers…. Needless to say, this has the keep Christ in Christmas crowd freaking out. Although, it is amusing that this production is happening in Boston, where Christmas was banned for being a holiday that featured the lord of misrule and men dressing as women (and vice versa). Maybe they have finally discovered the true meaning of Christmas in Boston after shaking off the Puritan bullshit.

What would these people say about Philadelphia's Mummers?

Better yet, what would these people think about Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker?

Bourne's version takes place in a workhouse:
Bourne does away with the sanitized Victorian scenario of Christmas. Bourne, often at his most brilliant at re-working traditional ballet librettos (e.g. “Swan Lake,” “Cinderella,” and “The Car Man” -- all seen in Los Angeles within recent years), delivers no less with “Nutcracker!” Instead of the cozy Victorian home, Bourne gives us a veritable Dickensian Third Reich where the ballet’s only family embodies not holiday charity but avarice and exploitation. Instead of the bourgeois domesticity of the Stahlbaums, Clara is an inmate of Dr. Dross’ Orphanage for Waifs and Strays, a kind of Dotheboys Hall run by Dr. Dross (Scott Ambler as an SS commandant Wackford Squeers) and the Matron, His Wife, (Annabelle Dalling as a nightmarish combination of Mommie Dearest Joan Crawford and Bette Davis’ Baby Jane). These symbolic inversions are only a starting point for Bourne.

The Matthew Bourne Nutcracker is super! I am not sure what I think about the Slutcracker. From the little teaser clip, it looks amusing, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see it. I Also have to admit that most US Nutcrackers usually are pretty boring community productions. The ballet is super when performed by talented dancers as opposed to the patrons' Children.

The video below also has the Christ in Christmas crowd upset that the "family" holiday is being desecrated. I suggest that these people look into the pagan rituals that have been around longer than Christianity.

Maybe they will rethink their position and just ban Christmas again since things like the Slutcracker are far more traditional Christmas/Solstice traditions. Banning Christmas is the only way to end that sort of thing, but it has never worked in the past.

So, why would they think they can change a holiday that is more pagan than Christian.