Every year I write about The Nutcracker. But not just any Nutcracker. This is the one with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland from 1977. It is not just my favorite version of this ballet. It is my favorite ballet production of all time.
I am a huge Baryshnikov fan. Imagine my surprise when he turned up (uncredited) as a Russian minister in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. But it is obviously his earlier career in which I am most interested. I am watching him dance a pas de deux with Gelsey Kirkland, and it is sheer magic. He does not leap–he flies. He does not merely pick her up–he lifts and cradles her as though she was a small child. And she’s no schlump herself. She moves as though she is absolutely weightless. They dance in sync as though there were strings tying them together. And romantic-Oh my God! He is the perfect strong handsome prince, and she is the perfect willowy princess.
Let’s not leave out the rest of the cast either. They are not so famous, but they are magnificent. The production is colorful, well-costumed and flawlessly choreographed. Herr Drosselmeyer is a wonderful combination of mysterious magic and affection for his niece Clara.
This one is not easy to find, but it is well worth your time. It often turns up on Public Television this time of year, so keep an eye out.