Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ballet, imperialism: "The Nutcracker" (video)

Ashley Wells, Seth Auberon, Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly; Wiki; LBB; Gary St. Martin

Girls believe fairytales (Marina Aleksandrova).
Not much good can be said for imperialism*, but it can lead to cosmopolitan art -- a combining of cultures at the crossroads of capitals.

It is not just Washington D.C., New York, or Los Angeles, but there were many capitals that dragged booty from imperial conquests to pile up and show the world how profitable war can be when corporations join governments to produce "fascism," the marriage of business and military power.

Russian genius Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created world famous classical music to accompany a libretto adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia in December 18 of 1892. It has been selling out houses and keeping entire ballet companies financially afloat ever since.
(David Wilcox/LBB) Long Beach Ballet's "The Nutcracker" 2013 production at the Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.
What makes this ballet so popular? It feeds little girls' heads full of fairytales, pagan-Christmas (the empire's new child-friendly Saturnalia revelries) and keeps the sexist assumptions about gender alive and well. The men go off to war, the women stay at home to tend the family and protect the family's store of booty, and all serve a king (or czar) without question. Imperial conquests lead to riches and eventual downfall.
The housing in space ("heaven") is full of mansions, palaces, castles (Sanskrit vimanas) like this Theravada Buddhist temple in Thailand (Dawson_christopher/
I used to believe in fairytales (
It all began with...then came the ancient Greeks, the Romans (of Italy), the Vikings, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, British, Russians, Germans, finally spreading from Europe to Europeans landing in America to create their most successful colony/colonizer.

Meanwhile, the Japanese and the Chinese before them (and even the Tibetans conquering the Himalayan region from Mongolia to Bangladesh) had their turns. The infected-mentality continues, an China is far from finished.

But long ago, in space, it began with this satellite civilization, this out-of-the-way colony that became important for its strange earthling life forms. We remember in mythology and celebrate it in the form of "Star Wars," "Star Trek," and futuristic tales repeating age-old archetypal storylines that "feel" right.

The Making of the Nutcracker
(Gary St. Martin) The documentary follows City Ballet of San Diego, now in its 17th season, for its annual Nutcracker performance from Day 1 of rehearsal through ten performances at Spreckles Theatre. The company is directed by Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich, former dancers with the Boston Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet. Filmed in five locations.

Imperial war is cool: Let's get that booty.
Other empires fall away, but this one is still rising. And every night (use military-grade night-vision goggles to see for yourself) various species and races, varieties and cultures vie to protect what's going on down here. Strange but true, just ask John Lear, Stewart Swerdlow, Andrew Basiago, Al Bielek, or most of the guests who pass through the radio studios of Coast to Coast.

Down with imperial fascists! (FEMEN)
The complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in North America (Jennifer Fisher, Nutcracker Nation: How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003).

Russia created it.
Major American ballet companies now generate about 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker (Lauren Gallagher, "S.F. Ballet presents the classiest ‘Nutcracker’ of all," SF Examiner; Daniel J. Watkin, "Coming Next Year: 'Nutcracker' Competition," New York Times, Nov. 2009). More

(Gary St. Martin) Balanchine Masterworks, March 4-6 2016 at Spreckles Theater, Long Beach.

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