We are officially in full on Nutcracker mode. Each day is like a step through the looking glass, diving toes first into Clara’s strange dream. In so many ways, Nutcracker season really does feel like a dream. With its soft familiarity, it lures me in deeper, and somehow my presence there feels oddly foreign. I own the memories, yet they are not solely mine. The music runs habitually through me, like the soft ticking of an old clock that hung in my childhood home.
This year I am revisiting the enigmatic Sugarplum Fairy. I love this entire article by dance critique Alastair Macauly, but his eloquent examination of the music was particularly moving:
“Just the first string chord note can raise goose bumps, a sudden announcement of huge drama. The scales that follow, so momentous and solemn, are as breathtaking as the immense central staircase of a baroque palace. There’s a tragic quality here — those descending scales, with their emphatic rhythm, keep being repeated — but there’s also sublimity, transcendence and even, here and there, aspects of consolatory tenderness. How do you realize this extraordinary music in dance?”
I’ve often wondered about the Sugarplum Fairy. Who is she? What is she feeling? Why does she dance this dramatic pas de deux? Macauly’s assessment seems to ring true. He claims that the Sugarplum’s aim is not love nor tragedy, as the “sweeping” score implies, but pure beauty:
“The Sugar Plum, assisted by her cavalier, dances in sublimity beyond emotion; her transcendent beauty keeps being renewed by the dance.”
What a rapturous personality to pursue! Her power throughout and even beyond the dance world is certainly magical in its mystery, and I am honored to investigate.