Get Cracking!

Even more Nutcracker!

Some clips from the lovely Royal Ballet version.


More Nutcracker

This is an interesting version of The Nutcracker by the Dutch National Ballet.

The Drosselmeyer in this version has been partly supplanted by Father Christmas and his black servant?


American Ballet Theater's The Nutcracker

For the past few years, I've been meaning to go and see ABT's version of The Nutcracker.  They staged a new version and the Baryshnikov version choreographed for himself plus the lovely Kirkland is now retired.  At the beginning of this year, ABT announced that they will not renew their engagement at BAM and will now move their holiday season to California.  So this year is the last year to see ABT's Nutcracker in NY.

I saw the production this past Saturday with Hee Seo and Corey Stearns in the lead roles.  The dancing, on the whole, was very good.  There were a few ragged arms and wobbly legs in some scenes but not so bad that it detracted from the performance.  The children from ABT's school were fantastic and in this particular production (choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky) they perform some very large roles.  Hee Seo was lovely as the adult Clara and her solo was enjoyable to watch.  Corey Stearns struck me as capable of more and I didn't get the sense that the choreography challenged him in any way.  His solo was filled with changements, entrechets and other quick, small jetes.  On a smaller dancer these steps would look dynamic but Stearns is rather tall and it just seemed as though he were sleepwalking rather than dancing.  But he did partner Seo very well and they had great stage presence as a couple.

The costume and scenery was a bit lacking in places with strange color choices that seemed too modern for the Georgian era it was portraying.  These abrupt changes in style were disorienting and reminded me a bit of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  Which isn't a bad thing if that was intended, but I don't think that was the frame of mind they were invoking.  The snowflake set piece however (pictured above) was very pretty.

The choreography was great with some interesting change ups from more established versions.  I thought the addition of the male dancers in The Waltz of the Flowers was rather cheeky and sweet. This production doesn't take itself that seriously.

If you can get to BAM in Brooklyn, then see this ballet before the run ends.



It's that time of year!

Nutcracker time.  This version is performed by the Marinsky Ballet.


Close to You - The Carpenters

A news article about one of the Carpenters songs took me to Carpenters Youtube hell.

Not that I was complaining.  It gave me a laugh about the past.  The Carpenters were one of the top bands that ruled the early to mid 70's.  I don't remember feeling one way or the other about them, they were just one of those things always playing on the radio.

The only song my baby self really loathed was "Sing".  I hated it with a passion all my baby self could muster in my under 3 feet tall self.  Whatever caused this hatred is unknown to me.  But I vaguely remember feeling very patronized by the song.

On a macabre note, in the video it looks as if Karen Carpenter was already beginning her torturous battle with Anorexia.  I have a suspicion the big hairdo was to cover up how pitifully thin her face was at the time.

But what was up with Karen's Heidi get up?  My present self is flabbergasted but my past baby self is saying..."Dang, I need to get me one of those outfits!"


This is an earlier TV recording of the song.  Karen Carpenter still looks about normal weight and the video showcases the fact that she was also the band's drummer.

I wonder how much of her self image problems being in the spotlight were due to her being forced into the sweetheart idol role and not the musician/vocalist she prided herself on being.  So sad, what a difference between both of these videos.


One week of T-Tapp

I finished my first week with T-Tapp last Friday.  My feelings contained surprise, disappointment and satisfaction.

Surprise  - As in I was amazed that only 15 minutes of targeted aerobic movement gave me a good workout.

Disappointment - In that I only lost an inch in a few places mainly my trunk (inch loss on pecs, chest, ribs, abdomen - waist and hips stayed the same).  Some people lose much more in their first week.  But I suppose this is due to everyone's body being different.

Satisfaction - Losing 1 inch on my tummy is nothing to be disappointed in for long.

The exercises really concentrate on putting the body into alignment with focus on isometric work while adding aerobic movement.  This program will not hurt your legs or back.  In fact the alignment work will relieve pressure on both areas.  But you do have to be extremely mindful on form.  This is one of those exercise programs in which if you don't pay attention or slack off it won't give you a work out.  Because form is so important, you will need to complete the instructional workout at least 3 or 4 times in order to understand the exercises and their proper form.  Only then should you move on to the 15 minute workout called Basic Plus.  The Basic Plus program is without instruction and close to regular tempo.  The basic plus video kit does include the tempo version of the workout, it is quite fast and would be confusing and too rigorous for a beginner.  So stick with instructional and the regular version for as long as you can.  If you are a regular follower of Lotte Berk and her method's various off shoots, you will take to this program like a duck to water.  Tapp has a lot of the same concepts in her workout.

Teresa Tapp encourages all new exercisers to her program to complete her bootcamp with no other exercise programs included.  Mainly she wants to prove that T-Tapp is a good workout and will give everyone inch loss.  The bootcamp can be either the 15 minute basic plus workout or her hour long Total workout completed every day for 4 to 14 days (depending on how much you need to lose).  Since I'm within the last 10 pound loss, I decided to choose the 2 clothing size loss bootcamp.  Therefore my initial bootcamp was the basic plus program every day for 7 days.  Now, for the next 2 weeks I will be completing the workout every other day.

So far I'm a happy customer which is good because the videos are not cheap.  Also the videos themselves are extremely low-fi about on par with the first Callanetics.  The people exercising along with Teresa Tapp are regular people at various stages in their inch loss plan.  Quite a few of them are in amazing shape (including Tapp who has a gorgeous figure).  The program has no music to annoy or distract you while you exercise.

One element that I appreciate and cannot applaud enough is Tapp's explanation of body anatomy.  She describes 3 body types: Long Torso, Short Torso and Combo.  This is extremely important because she will explain WHY you may not be able to look like her (she has a Long torso figure) at your healthiest and WHY you should not be disappointed by this fact.  Long torso bodies (measuring 4 inches or more between ribs and hip bones) will develop beautiful waists and lithe, graceful backs.  Short Torso bodies (3 inches or less between ribs and hip bones) will always be thick at the waist but develop long, lean beautiful legs.  Combos (Even measurements all around) will develop the most balanced looking figures.

Example link:

Basically Tapp stresses looking good for your body type and not whatever type your neighbor or friend is or whatever is fashionable at the moment.

According to my experience so far I would recommend T-Tapp.  I will be giving updates in the next few weeks as the program plays out.


20 Hours of Callanetics

So I completed 20 hours of Callanetics last week.  During my last 10 hours I alternated the original exercise program with Callanetics Evolution.

My results?  Just what I thought in my first post about 10 Callanetics hours.  To get real results you will need more than just 20 hours (or about 2 months) of Callanetics.  I'm not saying I didn't experience improvement.  I certainly did.  But the most dramatic changes occurred during the first 10 hours.  After the first 10 the changes were more in the refinement territory.  My body became progressively stronger, certain areas became smoother.  Clothing fit me better and I did go down one size without dieting.

Callanetics Evolution was a good counterpoint to the original program.  It was tougher in certain areas with some nice alternate improvements to the older exercises.  However some of the improvements did not seem to take into account problems with knees or backs.  The standing leg degage exercises were more intense than the original program's plies.  I could feel them straining my knees and back.  Something that never occurred in the original program.  They also never occurred in my Lydia Bach Lotte Berk videos that also used a degage variation.  Mainly because the Berk version requires you to hold the barre (or what you use for a barre) with two hands and while doing degages to the back, the Lydia Bach Lotte Berk program allows you to lean against the barre. The Evolution program is more in the style of the original Lotte Berk program (by Lotte herself).  However Berk didn't use degages but arabesques to the side with quick stretches for a set of 10.  The quickness of the original LB method made sure that the strain to the knees and back were minimal which isn't the case in Evolution where you are standing on one leg, degageing for 100 counts each to the front, side and back.  This is why I think the Evolution program is certainly not for beginners but for intermediate to advanced Callanetics students.  You need more strength to complete those degages that a beginner will not have.

I didn't get bored with either program and looked forward to both.  But I will admit that I wanted more dramatic changes.  So on the internet I looked for Callanetics fan blogs for advice on a nice counterpoint to Callanetics.  A lot of them mentioned alternating Callanetics with a program called T-Tapp.  I looked into it and was intrigued.  It claims to be a 15 minute aerobic program based on movements from physical therapy programs.  I am now in the process of completing T-Tapp's initial week long boot camp and I will write about my results later.