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The State Ballet of Berlin has decided to suspend Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker due to the allegedly politically incorrect episodes, says artistic director of the troupe Christian Theobald in an interview with Bild.
In the original version of the Nutcracker ballet, two children appear on stage wearing dark-skinned makeup. In long practice cultural theatre tradition this is known as ‘blackface’.
The same applies to the oriental dance in the 1892 Russian composer’s production with harem concubines and a soloist, whose body is covered with dark make-up. These are all things that can no longer be released on stage without explanation, is the new mantra of theatre producers.
Theobald also noted that Chinese dance, which demonstrates the conventional image of the country’s inhabitants, is also considered a controversial element. On stage, she said, they ‘move in small mincing steps.’
At the same time, she herself spoke out against the ‘culture of cancellation’ popular in the West and stated that they did not plan to cancel the production for good. As the interlocutor of the newspaper clarified, the traditional makeup of children was already removed from the production: for example, the ballet received letters with criticism of the audience back in 2015.
‘We talked with choreographers Vasily Medvedev and Yuri Burlaka. We told them that blacking up (blackface) should be ruled out. And when we resumed the production under the direction of choreographer Johannes Oman, there was no blackface, she added.
At the same time, Theobald acknowledged that even such a change is a serious violation of copyright. ‘We must subject everything, everything to a new assessment, a new look,’ she concluded.
Berlin’s Nutcracker is a reconstruction of a classic libretto production by Marius Petipa, which was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Source
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