It’s Christmastime again, and that means revisiting my favorite stories and DVD’s. Baryshnikov’s Nutcracker is one of my favorites, and not just because of Christmas. He is sexy and amazing, and his chemistry with Gelsey Kirkland’s Clara is romantic beyond any heart-swelling movie or book you could ever read.
Trying to give you something I didn’t say in my last review (see October 2013): Baryshnikov makes ballet an Olympic sport. I made my son, the football player, watch it with me for the sheer athleticism, and he had to admit it turned all of his preconceptions about ballet on their ears. Football players and basketball players worry about their verticals? This man literally defies the laws of gravity. He jumps and hangs in the air with a command and grace that would leave most “athletes ” in the dust. Endurance? Oh my God! (Literally “God” because only a divine master could create such creatures as these magnificent dancers.) They run, they jump, they twirl, they waltz with no break in the action, no “pause for commercials.”
Although Baryshnikov and Kirkland are clearly and deservedly the stars, Baryshnikov was also the director, and it shows in every step and leap by every performer on the stage. They’re wearing tights? Tights show every rippling muscle without an ounce of fat on any one of the dancers. They’re prancing and waltzing? I dare any other athlete in any other sport to do an entire routine balanced on the very tips of their toes. Is it a stunning achievement? Yes. Is it sexy? You bet.