Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jazzing up the Nutcracker

I've made an executive decision to skip the writing post this week and move it to next week because otherwise I'd end up having to skip it Thanksgiving week, and I can't really think of anything to say today about writing. Other than that I need to do it.

As I realized yesterday, book 3 in the Fairy Tale series, A Kind of Magic, comes out in less than two weeks. Right now, it seems that only the e-book is up for pre-order, but it's supposed to be available in all formats by release day.

This one picks up maybe a couple of weeks after the previous one (I guess I don't like giving my characters a lot of rest). It appears that stabilizing things in the fairy Realm may have been bad for our world because it's starting to look like the old days of fairy tales, when strange occurrences involving the fae were more common (and thus the tales). And it's bad enough that other enchantresses are taking notice. Of course, that's right when Sophie has had a chance to get her dance career back on track with a role in the Nutcracker in New York.

I had some fun with the Nutcracker, creating my own version with a little more action in it. I watched way too many versions of that ballet when researching the book. I've never really been a fan of it, to be honest. I think it's only such a classic because it offers so many roles, with a lot of roles that can be danced by children. That means it's a staple for ballet schools, and then because so many people have danced in it, it's something they enjoy watching. But, really, if you haven't been in it and if your kid isn't in it, it can be pretty boring between the interesting parts. Almost all of the first act is pantomime without much dancing. Yet at the same time, that's the only part with any real conflict. There's the big battle with the Rat King, and the entire rest of the ballet is the celebration after that battle. Act two is the journey through the land of the snow (the part I have fun with in my version). Then act three is all the entertainment done in celebration. The snow scene can be lovely with a good corps, and then the individual act three dances can be good, though when you think about it, they're mostly based on ethnic stereotypes (depending on the version). It's definitely a ballet that's better in highlight reel form. This was the first professional ballet I ever saw, and I'd only seen the highlight reel versions before. So I was excited when I was in college and I was able to go to the Austin ballet's version, where I was promptly bored out of my skull.

I might watch it when it comes on TV, but it's the kind of thing where I read in between the good parts. Someone really needs to come up with a good alternative Christmas-season ballet.

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