Making the Grades
Most would agree that beginning a ballet career at the age of 42 would be a difficult task at best.... but then most of us aren't Barbie. The anatomically incorrect plastic doll makes her dance and film debut with Barbie In The Nutcracker. Purists will likely not appreciate the queen-of-the-toy-market's intrusion into the cultured world of ballet, but young girls (especially those with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads) may be enthralled.
Catering to those younger viewers inclined to squirm, this computer-animated adaptation of the yuletide classic takes liberal artistic license and concentrates more on story than dance. As the traditional rendition doesn't contain a lot of plot, this approach will be a new experience even for those intimately familiar with the ballet.
Barbie plays Clara, a young woman who receives a soldier-like nutcracker for a Christmas present. At midnight, when all are asleep, the little wooden gift springs to life with sword in hand; ready to defend his owner from rodents who creep into the parlor. Awakened by the scuffle, Clara tries to intervene. Figuring the damsel should pick on someone her own size, the evil Mouse King shrinks her with his magic scepter. The only way out of this little predicament is for Clara and the Nutcracker to venture into the enchanted land of Parthenia to find the Sugarplum Princess. And thus begins the typical adventure journey storyline (that emphasizes the dirty rat's villainous role, perhaps to attract a few male viewers), which is periodically interrupted by dance numbers.
Although the graphics are sometimes stiff or Barbie doll-like, the animation in the ballet sequences is very impressive. Using the latest motion capture computer technology, the art form's graceful hallmark movements were translated into Barbie's character by placing electrodes on real life prima ballerina, Maria Kowroski of the New York City Ballet. Peter Martins provides the choreography and the London Symphony Orchestra performs Tchaikovsky's famous score.
Enhanced with messages of kindness and persistence as essential ingredients for making dreams come true, Barbie In The Nutcracker may also stir an appreciation for the classical arts in the next generation.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Barbie In The Nutcracker.
Since her creation in 1959, Barbie has become one of the world’s best selling toys. What do you think is the secret of her success?
Interested in how Maria Kowroski’s dancing was translated into animation? Check out this 3:18 featurette from Artisan Entertainment (Windows Media Player required).