All posts in “The Nutcracker”

Muse/News: A princess at SAM, Jimi in Seattle, and a return to form

SAM News

Reads this review by Nalini Iyer for The International Examiner of Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India.

Peacock in the Desert offers Seattle a wonderful opportunity to experience Indian history, culture, and art and will appeal to visitors of all ages.”

And watch Princess Shivranjani Rajye of Marwar-Jodhpur share why she thinks our exhibition is so special.

Local News

Seattle Magazine has a great list of event recommendations for the month of December—mark your calendars, buy tickets, go to there.

“I Returned to The Nutcracker as an adult.” Seattle Met’s Stefan Milne watches the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker and floats between its various worlds.

Daudi Abe for Crosscut reviewing Bold As Love, the new exhibition at the Northwest African American Museum that explores Jimi Hendrix’s Seattle roots.

“The display highlights Hendrix’s quintessential experience growing up in the Central District—from a photo of 5-year-old Jimi at a family picnic at Leschi Park to some of his impressive drawings that include what appears to be the Miss Circus Circus hydroplane.”

Inter/National News

Mwatana for Human Rights has released a document—titled “The Degradation of History”—that lists 34 archeological and cultural heritage sites that have been damaged in war-torn Yemen.

Artnet reports: “The American sculptor Robert Morris, a shape-shifting artist, `and pioneer of minimalism, has died of pneumonia at an upstate New York hospital. He was 87.”

The New York Times on the just-released report that calls for France to return pieces of African cultural heritage to their home countries; there have already been initial responses from African officials.

“France holds at least 90,000 sub-Saharan artifacts, of which 70,000 are in the Quai Branly Museum. The report estimated that up to 95 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage is held by institutions outside of Africa.”

And Finally

A compelling piece of post-post-modern video art about those now 7-5 (!) Seahawks.

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Manager of Public Relations

Image: Installation view of Peacock in the Desert: the Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India at Seattle Art Museum, 2018, photo: Natali Wiseman
Share

What every holiday season needs… The Nutcracker

By Kaley Ellis, archives and exhibitions intern

As I was considering what to write in my next blog post, I stumbled upon an exhibition from 1984 featuring the works of Maurice Sendak, famous for the book he both wrote and illustrated, Where the Wild Things Are. Young and old alike seem drawn to his tale of Max, the mischievous boy who cavorts about in a monster costume (which I sometimes wish came in my size). Upon being sent to his room as punishment for his behavior, Max escapes to a fantasy isle where he soon discovers real monsters. Much like the stories of Peter Pan, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland, Sendak creates an alternate realm where the main character – a child – can escape. Fashioning a magical place where children can explore and monsters can be friend or enemy, Sendak offers something that most children – and if I’m being honest, myself included – would be intrigued by.

Intern Kaley Ellis, with the Maurice Sendak-illustrated Nutcracker book

Intern Kaley Ellis, with the Maurice Sendak-illustrated Nutcracker book

As I look through the folder of prints, negatives, and slides, I can see the exhibition where Sendak’s fantasies were brought to life. The 1984 exhibition titled Sendak Onstage displayed sketches, intricate theatrical sets and even costumes. Prominently featured in this exhibition are the tales Love of Three Oranges and Higgelty-Piggelty Pop with smaller selections from Where the Wild Things Are and The Nutcracker. I am immediately drawn to images of The Nutcracker because as a child I used to perform in the ballet every year. While I always dreamed of being one of the party girls (who got to wear pointe shoes and carry dolls), I was inevitably something less glamorous – like a gum drop or a rat soldier. Nonetheless, attending The Nutcracker (to my brother’s dismay) has always been a holiday favorite. However the Seattle version – with theatrical sets and costume designs by Sendak – is the most spectacular rendition I’ve yet to witness.

Installation shot from Sendak Onstage, Seattle Art Museum (Volunteer Park), 11/15/84 – 1/27/85

Installation shot from Sendak Onstage, Seattle Art Museum (Volunteer Park), 11/15/84 – 1/27/85

Asked in 1981 – by Kent Stowell with the Pacific Northwest Ballet – to design theatrical sets for the Nutcracker, Sendak created another fantasy realm for children to explore. Here, members of the European aristocracy gather for a holiday party in which the daughter of the host is given a magical nutcracker that comes alive at the stroke of midnight. But in this version, the mice appear to have a more exotic (possibly Colonial) appearance and carry curved sabers instead of swords and battle Imperial foot soldiers and cavalry with variations in costuming that seem to link them to French, British and German armies (distinctions in rank not typical in other ballets). Following the battle’s conclusion, Clara and her nutcracker prince travel to another realm, akin to a sultan’s palace that might have been found in the Middle East or South Asia. The ruler of the palace regales the couple with exotic performances (including one featuring a ballerina in a peacock body suit and elaborate feathered tail) after which they are inevitably sent home to their realm. Sendak’s costumes are vibrantly colored and have a magical quality to them much like Max’s monster suit, for they allow the viewer a glimpse into the evening’s fairy tale resplendent with life-size dolls, an epic battle (at one point there is an enormous rat tail that extends from the wing of stage merely hinting at the size of its owner), a sea voyage across turbulent waters, a sultan’s palace and last but not least, the sugar plum fairy and her court. However, my favorite part of the performance is the end in which Sendak has created a nutcracker head that becomes visible on the curtains when they close – from the top and bottom of the stage – with teeth chomping shut to hide the performers from view.  If you haven’t already, everyone should take a trip to the The Nutcracker in Seattle, for it allows the viewer to interact on a grand scale with Sendak’s art, much like the 1984 exhibit at SAM did for its audiences.

Top image: Installation shot from Sendak Onstage, Seattle Art Museum (Volunteer Park), 11/15/84 – 1/27/85
Share
Share