Friday, December 19, 2008

The Nutcracker, Snow, Marley and Me,

Last night I watched a superb production of The Nutcracker ballet by the San Francisco Ballet Company. The setting was based on the 1915 San Francisco World Fair so instead of getting various dances like the Sugar Plum Fairy, all the characters were from different countries, China, Russia, Arabia and so on. I also learned a little history, apparently it was the San Francisco Ballet Company who first brought the ballet from Russia to America in 1944 prior to which time it had never been performed in the States. The Nutcracker/Prince was danced by Davit Karapetyan an Armenian who started his life in sports, transferred to folk dancing and then decided he liked all the leaps the dancers performed so he became a ballet dancer. He was very good. The picture shows one of his leaps which were pretty spectacular. This is an article about him as the Nutcracker and something about his origins. I was particularly fascinated by the snow scene at the end of the first act, the stage was absolutely covered in snow as were the dancers. Must have taken a while to get rid of the stuff before the next act. Not being real snow it stuck to the faces of the dancers who must have found it a nuisance, however, scenically it was absolutely beautiful. I love the ballet and would have enjoyed going to the actual theatre to see this although apparently tickets were $126 a pop. However, live theatre cannot be beaten. I have seen quite a few ballets in London and had the pleasure of seeing Margot Fonteyn dance at Sadlers Wells. She was absolutely wonderful although I suspect, unless you are an aficionado, most people don't remember her today. One of the last ballets I saw on stage was at Kitchener's Centre in the Square (the town where I live). Unfortunately, the acoustics of which they are so proud, ruined the performance as all you could really hear were thumping feet. I am told something has been done about this since, but I am reluctant to go to another ballet to find out. I should learn to keep my mouth shut. I have been rabbiting on about lack of snow and green Christmases and what do we get today, snow, snow and more snow. We are supposed to get something like 15 cm before the day is over which probably means we will not be going bowling this afternoon and maybe not even out to dinner this evening. It is supposed to be quite a storm today with high winds (so far they have not materialised). In Buffalo, NY there are lots of school closings this morning, not sure if that's happening here as Matt wasn't watching a local TV channel. Not only that, there is supposed to be another dollop arriving on Sunday, so I think - unless we suddenly get summer - there will be no doubt about a white Christmas. We have another problem this morning, the lowest string of lights on our tree has decided just to light the red bulbs and nothing else. Weird. Matt is going to "mess" with them in a while to see if there is anything he can do. They look quite pretty but..... There is a new movie, Marley and Me, recently on the circuits and today Good Morning America had one of the Marleys as a guest. They actually used 22 dogs (some of them puppies) to make the movie. A very well trained dog of course, but the TV picture decided to break up so we couldn't see everything that was happening. Actually we had about three pictures happening at once. We are obviously having a bad morning with snow, red lights and lousy TV. Yesterday they interviewed Jennifer Aniston who is in the movie and showed a clip about taking the dog, Marley, to the vet for surgery which the dog obviously didn't want to have and ends up climbing out of the driver's window running his front paws on the road beside the car and his rear end being held by Owen Wilson who is also still trying to drive whilst hanging on to the dog. Pretty funny scene. Here's another recipe from the LCBO's Food and Drink magazine. It looks as though it would be pretty spicy (hot) so tread warily. When I try it I will let you know. The picture shows the tails left on, I personally hate that, but it is entirely up to you. Indian-Spiced Shrimp Spoon over basmati rice or serve with good-quality naan (bread). This fast stir-fry is quicker than takeout. Taste the jalapeño beforehand, as spiciness varies One 340 g package frozen uncooked large shrimp (or fresh of course) 1 tbs vegetable oil 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced 1/2 to 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced 1-inch piece peeled ginger, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp garam masala 1/2 tsp chili powder 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 lemon 1/3 cup chopped coriander. Thaw shrimp and peel. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion and stir fry 2 to 3 minutes. Add jalapeño, ginger and garlic and continue to cook until onion is soft, 1 to 2 minutes, adjust heat as necessary. Add shrimp and seasonings and stir-fry until shrimp are pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. If pan starts to look dry, squeeze in a little lemon juice. Stir in coriander and a little more lemon juice if needed. Serves 2 to 3. Have a great day.


  1. Oh, you lucky thing, getting to see a Nutcracker! When I was critiquing performances for The Australian newspaper I used to get free tickets and I saw somw fantastic performances, free of charge. (Of course, I had to sit through some fairly dreary ones as well, but that's the nature of critiquing!)

    Now I'm on a pension I can't afford to see the top companies anymore, even when I'm in Perth - and of course here in Mount Gambier we don't get such performances anyway. The last top company I saw was 10 years ago, when I was last in NY - saw the NY City Ballet doing Sleeping Beauty at the Kennedy Centre. A high note to bow out on:-)

  2. How wonderful to be able to see such a top performance though.

    I was thinking about buying the DVD it is almost $30 but as it would just be for me, I couldn't justify it. Matt likes the music, but ballet leaves him cold.

    Did you ever get to see a ballet at Covent Garden?

  3. Why not treat yourself to the DVD, if you'll watch it again and again? Matt can listen from the shed or wherever. And he can choose the next treat, perhaps:-)

    I've never been inside Covent Garden, let alone seen a performance. I've seen the Royal Ballet a few times in Oz, though, and also the Ballet Rambert, the Scottish Ballet, the Bolshoi and the Kirov. They don't bring the full companies of the Russians, of course, and its funny how overdone their acting seems in a small theatre. They are used to performing in humungous theatres so they have to exaggerate everything!