From the NY Times in an article about Mother Gingers and Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut, specifically about the Waltz of the Flowers presided by Mrs. Stahlbaum:
“Mrs. Stahlbaum, the heroineâ€™s mother… is played by a man (John Heginbotham), and the dance she presides over â€” a fertility ritual she seems not to want to understand â€” is the Waltz of the Flowers. Vain, feckless, affected, vulgar, silly but tender-hearted, sheâ€™s the American dance equivalent of one of the great comic mothers of fiction: Mrs. Bennet in â€œPride and Prejudice.â€”
You know, I don’t agree with this at all – I feel like this scene in Mark Morris’ Hard Nut is an exploration into Mrs. Stahlbaum’s heart. I see a woman of many secrets, embodying unfulfilled desire, anger, but ultimately, a calm and a peace of acceptance. Through most of the waltz, she seems wrapped up in her own world with swiveling shoulders, participating in the music but not in the dance with the flowers around her. Sometimes she finishes the phrases the flowers starts, and seems to conduct the dance in other moments. She is cognizant of the world around her, but has chosen to find peace in herself. And what better gift of womanhood can a mother share with her daughter?
Maybe my interpretation isn’t too far off from what the article was saying.
Everyone loves the snow scene in The Hard Nut, but from my very first viewing, the waltz of the flowers was my favorite. The complexity, the darker colors, and the eye opening moments in the music are all wonderful. I love that Mrs. Stahlbaum, in the middle of the waltz, starts pulling imaginary pizzicatos in the air, mirroring the still but sure pizzicato bass line in the strings. It’s a dream of a dance and music lover like myself, when both fields merge into one, and it’s so fun to watch.
For those of who have stumbled onto this blog looking for information on The Hard Nut, all I can see is, GO SEE IT. I’ve never seen kids so riveted in a Nutcracker performance, and it’ll entertain everyone from the dance newbie to the longtime dance obsessive. It’s funny, touching, and remarkably complex. Click here for my sister’s review in 2007 when they were in Berkeley.
This year it’s only playing in Brooklyn through December 19. Click here for more information.