Boring choreography: That is certainly what you don't expect from Mark Morris but that is certainly what you get, sight gags aside, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Mr. Morris's sitcom, "The Hard Nut," had its American premiere on Friday night.
Look at a current aspect of the international dance scene that hovers on intellectual bankruptcy and you find retellings of the ballet classics like Mats Ek's "Giselle," set in an insane asylum, and now, Mr. Morris's conceptual "Nutcracker" that begins in a vaguely 1960's suburban American living room.
The jokes in this production, in Mr. Burns's hostility-ridden world of uglies, are mainly associated with bodily functions. Drosselmeier, the usual godfather, kisses the hand of the heroine's sister and then wipes his lips while she smells her hands and makes a face. The suspicion that Mr. Morris as a party guest in Act I is headed for the bathroom proves true when he returns, toilet paper stuck to his shoe.
There is nothing sacred about "The Nutcracker" as a ballet and Mr. Morris does not trash Tchaikovsky's glistening score. But he does trivialize it; unlike Peter Sellars, with whom he has worked and whose opera productions have similar provocative updatings, he manages, choreographically, to miss the musical climaxes consistently by a mile. The whole thing sounds better on paper than it looks onstage.
You may want to read the entire review written by Anna Kisselgoff when the production debuted in the U.S. Anna stood at the barre.
What’s a reader to conclude about the cultural guidance that The New York Times gives its national readership when it flip-flops on something as basic as The Nutcracker? Macaulay’s reviews are little more than a telling of his tastes. If all he has to offer is his taste, he should be reviewing restaurants. When it comes to ballet, we need a critic with more sophisticated and fundamental knowledge.