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Long beloved by American audiences, and the most-often shown version of the ballet on US television, this Emmy-nominated production is at last being made available in the UK. Baryshnikov was at the height of his career as a classical dancer in 1977 when he staged this beloved holiday classic for the American Ballet Theatre. Gelsey Kirkland had left the New York City Ballet to dance with the Russian superstar, and their partnership was magical. In this Soviet-influenced version, Baryshnikov casts himself as the hero who is transformed from a wooden figure to a soaring prince, and Kirkland plays an adolescent girl of delicacy and vulnerability. Alexander Minz portrays Drosselmeyer, a mysterious wizard who not only conjures the fantasy but also dances with the romantic couple. Kenneth Schermerhorn conducts the National Philharmonic in a fast-paced performance of Tchaikovsky's music. Celebrated by critics and public alike, Baryshnikov's The Nutcracker delivers a brilliant and sparkling adaptation of the famous ETA Hoffmann tale along with Tchaikovsky's classic score.
Baryshnikov's staging, thanks in the main to Kirkland's radiance, might just be the best Nutcracker of them all. --Allen Robertson, Dance Now