The rest of us may not have quite skipped over Thanksgiving yet, but the girls at the Alabama Ballet are already practicing for the Christmas season because you know the Nutcracker is coming. And not just any old nutcracker but specifically the one choreographed by the incredible George Balanchine. As an intellectual property lawyer, I am impressed by the way they use a TM symbol on everything, to show the trademark registration has been applied for. That was a little slow incoming since this will be the tenth time it has played at the Alabama Ballet. And Balanchine, born Giorgi Balanchivadze, died back in 1983. If the registration were already granted you would see that R in a circle.
When I was in college, before learning so many nifty things in law school, I used to take the 45-minute train to the city to go and see my favorite ballerina from Birmingham who was in dancing school at the American Ballet Theatre. But we would catch some performances of at the New York City Ballet that Balanchine founded and directed in his day. Even too my unpracticed eye for dancers, the movements of Balanchine’s choreography were always both surprising and beautiful.
In 1954, Balanchine created his version of The Nutcracker, in which he played the mime role of Drosselmeyer. The company has since performed the ballet every year in New York City.
The other thing that strikes me again watching the rehearsals is how hard the girls work. They hit the floor hard and in the rehearsal room you can hear the pounding and see that they risk doing real damage. I remember my ballerina friend always having pulled hamstrings and surgery for bone spurs. It was a lot like playing in the SEC.
What you also see at the rehearsals that doesn’t show in the performance is the girls falling down on their backs with their little hearts palpitating and their chests heaving after a particularly strenuous pas de deux.
Of course they don’t break a sweat in Billy Brown’s graceful photos of the actual performances.