DELVING INTO THE ARCHIVE – ‘THE NUTCRACKER SWEETIES’
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
To celebrate the start of the ballet season, the Jasper Conran studio has delved into the performance archives to bring you exclusive photography, illustrations, selected press and original programmes from The Nutcracker Sweeties ballet.Jasper was the costume designer for this one-act ballet, which was set to Duke Ellington’s jazz version of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.
The Nutcracker Sweeties was choreographed by David Bintley and performed by the Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1996. The original score was written by Duke Ellington and William Strayhorn in the 1960’s. By arranging Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, an orchestral arrangement of the ballet score of The Nutcracker, Ellington and Strayhorn stepped into a jazz tradition that stemmed from the music’s earliest years, when ragtime piano players were ‘ragging the classics.’ The Jazz-Nutcracker, as the suite became known, was a triumph.
Jasper said, during an interview at the time: “I hadn’t heard Duke Ellington’s version before. To my mind it was a very Forties Big Band Sound. I wanted to bring this sort of American – almost Busby Berkeley – look to it. What I tried to do was react in the same way as he did to Tchaikovsky’s original music and make it wild. It took about ten months to complete the costumes and it was terrific fun.”
A review in The Manchester Evening News said: “There are stars and stripes galore, as drum majorettes, sailors, soldiers and matadors take the stage for an affectionate evocation and send up of Hollywood musicals. Jasper Conran’s costumes and Peter J Davidson’s sets add much to the fun as matadors and their women swirl around, Come Dancing-style, in liquorice all-sorts gear against a backdrop of gaudy neon skyscraper that becomes a battleship that fires glitter bombs.”