Edited By Deborah Ascher Barnstone
Deborah Ascher Barnstone - 4 Seeing Double: The Doppelgänger in Two Interpretations of the Ballet Classic The Nutcracker, by John Neumeier and Marco Goecke
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DEBORAH ASCHER BARNSTONE
4 Seeing Double: The Doppelgänger in Two Interpretations of the Ballet Classic The Nutcracker, by John Neumeier and Marco Goecke
Two contemporary versions of the ballet The Nutcracker, one by John Neumeier and the other by Marco Goecke, offer very different interpretations of the Doppelgänger motif so central to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original tale. John Neumeier’s version of the ballet uses a complex play with the Doppelgänger to magnify the Lacanian identity drama inherent in the story on which the ballet is based.1 In Neumeier’s hands the ballet is still a coming-of-age parable, as in Hoffmann, enhanced as the story of a young girl becoming a ballerina. In spite of his engagement with the Doppelgänger motif, however, Neumeier’s staging retains the upbeat fairytale atmosphere common to most versions, virtually ignoring any hint of the neurotic or supernatural. The Freudian sense of uncanny is present but minimally. In contrast, Marco Goecke’s Nutcracker is barely recognizable as a variation on Hoffmann’s tale or the ballet; only Tchaikovsky’s score and the names of the characters tie it to Hoffmann and more conventional productions. Instead, Goecke creates an eerily haunting series of dances in which the Doppelgänger becomes the central motif transformed into a multiple, as if the dancers perform inside a tripartite mirror, where their images are repeated endlessly. Unlike Neumeier, who reinterprets The Nutcracker in a modern way but retains much of the traditional staging of the ballet,...
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