The holiday season has begun early this year as a fresh spin of the classic Christmas story whose characters include a young girl named Clara, dancing fairies, mice in battle and a mysterious nutcracker comes to theaters throughout the U.S.
The recently-released film, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” a modernized retelling of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s (the ballet’s original choreographer) “The Nutcracker Ballet,” stars MacKenzie Foy (from “The Twilight Saga”) as Clara the Princess of the Four Realms, Jayden Fowora-Knight as The Nutcracker, Oscar-nominated Morgan Freeman as the Godfather and Misty Copeland, the famed, African-American ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre in a special performance.
The story follows Clara as she goes on a Christmas present hunt, thanks to Godfather Drosselmeyer, during which she finds a key in a land called The Four Realms – a place she later learns owes its beginnings to her mother, who created it and once ruled as its queen. Clara becomes convinced that the key can open a mysterious, golden, nut-shaped giftbox given to her by her mother prior to her death. And she believes that a message from her mother lies locked inside the box. But before she can use the key, it’s stolen by a mouse – a subject of Queen Mother Ginger (portrayed by Helen Mirren), forced into isolation by the other three realms after the Four Realms Queen disappeared.
The tale of adventure also features Academy Award-winner Keira Knightley as the Queen Sugar Plum Fairy, Eugenio Derbez as the Flower Realm King and Richard E. Grant as the Snow Realm King, along with the Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston as the directors and co-producers Mark Gordon and Larry Franco.
More information about the Walt Disney Pictures/Mark Gordon Company production can be found at www.Movies.Disney.com/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms.
Moscow Ballet Dances ‘Nutcracker’ in Special Spectacular U.S. Tour
For those who enjoy seeing the “Nutcracker” performed on stage, a special opportunity awaits as one of the world’s highly-regarded ballet companies tours 45 U.S. cities throughout the months of November and December. The Moscow Ballet Theatre will present the “Great Russian Nutcracker,” also titled the “Moscow Ballet Dove of Peace Tour featuring the Great Russian Nutcracker and Swan Lake” – brought to a city “near you” because of 100 dancers, 1,000 crew members and nine mega-trucks.
The “Great Russian Nutcracker” performances will unveil the premier of a new principal dancer, the Moscow Ballet Theatre’s Rafael Urazov in its “Dove of Peace” and “Arabian” dance segments.
Urazov, after suffering a potentially career-ending knee injury, supplemented his two-years rehabilitation regiment by employing acrobatics and boxing to strengthen his muscles. He would incorporate many of the moves upon his return as a ballet dancer – moves that can be seen in his role in the “Dove of Peace Tour.”
This will be the first time that he dances in the “Dove of Peace” segment – one created exclusively for the Moscow Ballet Theatre that they would incorporate in 1993, reimaging the originally named piece, The Bird,” as “The Dove,” also choosing it as the signature of the company.
The “Great Russian Nutcracker” tour, with more stops scheduled in Canada, will visit a total of 100 cities in North America. The company will also reach out into communities through its “Dance with Us,” engaging youth, 6 to 18, bringing them onstage and teaching them Russian ballet. It’s estimated that they will reach over 6,000 American ballet dance students – youth who The Moscow Ballet Theatre has dubbed “Ambassadors of Peace for Moscow” as they “bridge cultural divides and spread the message of peace.”
Editor’s Note: “The Nutcracker,” a two-act ballet with a score by Peter Tchaikovsky (op. 71), premiered in Saint Petersburg at the Markiinsky Theatre, Sun., Dec. 18, 1892, and failed miserably – that is, until the composer extracted the more-familiar 20-minute suite from the longer, original production. Still, he achieved success with two other ballets, “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty.”
Then, in the late 1960s, the complete “Nutcracker” began gaining popularity. Today, it’s performed by ballet companies too many to count, primarily during the Christmas season, particularly in North America. Ballet companies lean on total ticket sales from their performances of “The Nutcracker” for an estimated 40 percent of their yearly revenues.
While Hoffman’s story has already been noted as providing the foundation for the ballet’s libretto, a second adapted story, “The Story of a Nutcracker,” bears equal credit. The French-born writer of that story, also the author of more recognizable novels like “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas, until very recently, would often undergo a “whitewashing” before being introduced in literature courses. Dumas, a “person of color,” was born of parents whose ancestry included natives of Saint-Domingue – present-day Haiti – the French nobility and Afro-Caribbean slaves.
Eunice Moseley, whose syndicated column, “The Pulse of Entertainment,” has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million, also works as a public relations strategist, business management consultant and promotions director. For more information, visit www.thepulseofentertainment.com.
WI Editor D. Kevin McNeir contributed to this article.