New York City Ballet's 2015 Dance of the Danish Marzipan | Teen Ink

New York City Ballet's 2015 Dance of the Danish Marzipan

November 24, 2018
By cgod18 BRONZE, Dover, Massachusetts
cgod18 BRONZE, Dover, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

As the holiday season rolls around, it’s time for all of our favorite traditions. These can be many things: such as hot chocolate, spending time with family, and, of course, everyone's favorite ballet. Once again the dancers of New York City Ballet take the stage in George Balanchine’s and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. This Christmas story about a young girl, Clara, begins when her uncle, a magician/toy maker, gifts Clara a nutcracker doll. Later that night, Clara discovers that the doll is alive, and is being hunted by an evil mouse king. In an attempt to save her doll from the clutches of this rat, Clara throws her shoe at him and kills him. As a thank you, the Nutcracker takes Clara to the land of sweets where she is thanked by having all the sweets in the land dance for her. One dance, in particular, is very special, although, as time goes on this dance becomes less and less popular. New York City Ballet’s 2015 Danish Marzipan is what I would consider to be one of their best performances ever.

The most essential part of a dance is the choreography. Done in the Balanchine Method, this dance is light, airy, and beautifully choreographed. In the beginning, while the music is soft, the dancers perform a series of echappes, which means to escape in French. This move gets its name from the way the dancers’ feet practical explode out of fifth position, making it match the music dramatic symbols perfectly. As the music becomes quieter, the dancers perform bourrees, which means stuffed, getting their name from the quick beats that the dancers stuff into each step. Their light, flowy movement makes it perfect for the song because they are not hard, so the dancers can prepare for the workout when the beat kicks in. As the song reaches its climax, so does the dancing with grand battements to the loud crashing of the symbols. Grand battement translates to big beat, which is perfect because the dancers beat the air, throwing their legs up as high as they can. This is made even harder by the fact that they are going on and off their pointe shoes, which is a real ankle workout. As the song draws to a close, one thing's for sure, nobody’s disappointed.

A dancers’ technique is crucial to the success of a dance. Most technical errors can lead to serious injuries that could end dancers’ careers. Although all five dancers in the 2015 Dance of The Marzipans have perfect timing, the technique definitely leaves something to be desired. Around 30 seconds into the dance, the dancers do an echappe into a fifth position on relave. Instead of holding this position, all four background dancers wobble, and one almost falls out. The lead marzipan is spared from this situation since she doesn't have to do this complicated step. Unfortunately, at only 30 seconds in, none of the dancers are that tired, and shouldn’t have technique that’s this displeasing. By about 50 seconds in, the dancers perform a box step into more echappes. Now, every time they pull into fifth, at least one dancer is overcrossing. In a typical fifth position on relave, the dancer's feet give the illusion that there is only one foot, but with two heels. If you can see both of the dancer's feet in fifth position, you know they’re overcrossing. Although this dance is incredibly boring, and it can be easy to miss the fifth position. When dancing at this level, technical errors as simple as overcrossing is, disappointing. As the dance reaches its climax at 1 minute and 30 seconds into the dance, the dancers perform a series of grand battements or high kicks. In order to do this, the dancers are constantly going on and off their boxes for 30 seconds at a time. Since I dance in pointe myself, I can tell you that this move is very stressful on a dancer’s ankles and can make it difficult to get in and off their box.  As the camera zooms in, we can see that the two dancers who are stage right are having difficulty with their shoes and as a result aren't making it onto their left box. Not only is this sloppy technique, but it’s also extremely dangerous for the dancers. If a dancer’s weight isn’t centered on their box, they could slip and fall and twist or break their ankle. Part of what makes Dance Of The Marzipans so amazing is the clean technique If the dancers couldn’t execute some of these moves cleanly, the steps should have been changed, not just for the enjoyment of the audience, but also for the safety of the other dancers.

Of course, no ballet would be complete without music. The music should match the choreography, begin either faster, or slower, according to the dancer's needs. The music should not be the focus, but instead complement the dance, drawing the audience's attention to the dancers, instead of the beat. If there is one dance I know that is there a perfect example of that, it’s this dance. The Dance Of The Marzipan is accompanied by the original music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. The uptempo rhythm gets the audience excited and guarantees that they will be humming the tune all day long. The song is also “bouncy,” making it the perfect tune to describe marzipans, which bounce when you touch them.  The dance has many jumping elements that require dancers to engage their cores and lift up onto releve. Having this light and airy tune allows them to “dance on top of the music,” without falling behind on timing. The music of a dance has the potential to make or break it, in this case, the music was simply exceptional.

Overall, this dance was exquisite. Sloppy technique aside, the dance choreography, technical ability, and musicality were all amazing. It can be very expensive to go see a variation of The Nutcracker, but it is also very easy to watch recorded dances on YouTube. I highly recommend that you watch at least one dance. If you do, The Dance of The Marzipans is my favorite. It’s definitely worth it. I know that I definitely can't wait to watch The Nutcracker next year. Even though George Balanchine has passed away, the New York City Ballet is always thinking up new dances. Many people are worries that this dance could stop being performed since it’s quite old and stressful for the dancers. As for now, we can only hope that more companies continue this dance before it becomes extinct.

The author's comments:

A review on one of the best dances of all time!

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This article has 2 comments.

julsul43 said...
on Dec. 9 2018 at 9:06 pm
julsul43, Dover, Massachusetts
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Amazing! Some quality writing right here. I love dancing!

Sullivan25 said...
on Dec. 9 2018 at 8:57 pm
Sullivan25, Dover, Massachusetts
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
What a great review! I love the part about the marzipans.