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Reply To: A Child’s Edenic Dream: “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”


Marianne, what an in-depth and beautiful essay/work on the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy!”

I can certainly relate to this on many different levels!

Though I mentioned in another post being a tap dancer, that does not encompass my full experience of dance (it is just a strong forte of joy.)

For a few years, I was a member of a regional ballet company.

My experience of dance ranges from training, performing, choreographing and teaching in the SE and NYC.

Love all forms of dance and also “free form.” Dancing to live music is also wonderful!

So I loved reading your essay and the way you handed down the “magic” of the “nutcracker and sugar plum fairy” and magic of dance to your daughter!!

One quote of yours stands out…

No part of the hero-myth is single in meaning…and all the figures are interchangeable” (Jung, C. G., 1965 p. 390). Clara thus achieves important steps on her path of individuation once she dances her dream

Before this, you connected The Sugarplum Fairy to Clara…

Clara is the fairy.

This reminds me of dancing in different Nutcrackers….and how the stories differ…

The first Nutcracker I was in…

Clara is not danced by a little girl, but a young woman (usually a principal member of company) who dresses as a “girl.” Sometimes it is a shorter company member.
As a little girl, I was convinced the young woman who danced Clara had to be a “fairy!”
When Clara breaks the spell of the Nutcracker…she reveals the Cavalier…

Then the “adult” Clara and “adult” Cavalier dance a Pa de Deux together.

Next is Snow…and then Land of the Sweets just as you describe!

Next Clara sits upon a dais watching all the dancers in the Land of the Sweets.
The Sugar Plum fairy is still there and dances her staccato dance, as well as her Pa de deux with the Cavalier.

So this is interesting, since both Clara and the Sugar Plum dance with the Nutcracker Prince.
Two halves of a whole? As you suggest?
Or the Sugarplum fairy still representing that yearning?

The 2nd version of the Nutcracker, which I encountered was while dancing with the regional ballet company.

You mention the Bolshoi version.

The 2nd version I experienced was based closer on the NYCB version.

Balanchine added more children to that version of the Nutcracker.

Though the regional company still had a Clara in Balanchine’s version the young girl is “Marie.”

Was trying to remember if that is closer to the original story you describe? But you are right it is not “as dark.” I would say the Maurice Sendak version of the Ballet is darker perhaps closer to the original story?

Fritz is mean and Drosselmeyer is no longer a tricksy magician but creepy and almost “sadistic.”
Though I do enjoy Arabian being represented as a Phoenix? Unless my ballets are mixed up. Think that was a NW ballet company?

Back on track…

The 2nd Nutcracker has a little girl play “Clara” or “Marie,” usually 10 to 12 years old.

When the spell is broken…there is a little boy…same age who represents the prince.

BUT the older Nutcracker Cavalier and the Sugarplum Fairy are still there.

In fact there is also if memory serves a “Snow King and Snow Queen?”
And the Cavalier might double up to play the snow King?
This dance takes the place of the Pa De Deux of “Adult” Clara and the Cavalier.
The little Clara and her Prince  just sit and watch the show…including the duet between the adult Cavalier and Sugarplum Fairy…

Though occasionally the little prince beckons other members of the land of sweets to perform.

I find that fascinating!
Maybe again representing that “longing” in Clara or Marie’s journey.

Also wondering if it is similar to Oklahoma where the dancer Bambi Lynn is the “dream” version of her character? Along with James Mitchell representing the other “dream” version of her co-Star?

Could the Cavalier and Sugarplum be dream versions or even represent a possible hopeful future for Clara…?

Unless they are literally? The Royal parents of the pre-teen Prince?

Offering as you said a place without conflict to Clara…a welcoming family…

Thank you again for this thought provoking piece on “the endemic dream!”

Dance on!