Tag Archives: Christmas

Tangled for Christmas

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Tangled for Christmas

My art goal for December was to have at least ten Christmas-related Zentangle designs to show you. I’m a little short. I started another yesterday that I didn’t finish in time for this post. If it’s done before Saturday, I’ll include it in my year-end report.

If these snowflakes look familiar, it might be because I posted them a week and a half ago for the Diva Holidaze challenge:

Zentangle, snowflakes

I’ve always thought the pattern verdigogh looks like pine tree snippets:

Zentangle, verdigogh

I tried to make a Christmas tree from the henna drum pattern, but it wasn’t looking very Christmasy, so I began drawing clusters of holly leaves in place of the blossoms:

Zentangle, henna drum, holly

Here’s a Christmas tree made with aura-leah:

Zentangle, aura-leah, Christmas tree

I made a many-branched luv-a and turned it upside down for a Christmas tree. I’m pleased with the way it turned out.

Zentangle, luv-a, Christmas tree

This tree started out as flux and got embellished:

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I thought munchin had the potential to look like tumbling Christmas trees, but I discovered that when I built them in clockwise clusters of five, they looked kind of like cubist stars. (My husband thinks they look like crystals–he was a geology major.)

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My final Christmas tree is built from ahh, paradox, pearlz, ramy, heartline, muzic, flutter, jacki, and btl joos.

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From the Creator’s Heart #182

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From the Creator’s Heart #182

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

Video of the Week # 180: Suzy Snowflake

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This film is older than me, but I remember singing the song in a school Christmas program with my kindergarten class.

Video of the Day: The Christmas Story Told Through Rocks

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To learn more about the art of Patti Rokus, and for more information about her book, click here.

#DC379: Holidaze

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This week’s Diva Challenge is to create a holiday tile. Here’s mine:

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Video of the Week #179: Love Has Come

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I never heard this lovely carol to the tune of “Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella” before last year.

Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker

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Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker

Poor Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Following the huge success of The Sleeping Beauty ballet in 1890, the Tsar wanted another hit from Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa.

Petipa took charge of the storyline of the ballet and created two scenes based on the Alexander Dumas adaptation of ETA Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The first act is a children’s pantomime, complete with party games. During Christmas festivities, Uncle Drosselmeyer gives Clara a toy nutcracker, which her brother promptly breaks. At night, the nutcracker (really Drosselmeyer’s nephew transformed by the evil mouse king) comes to life and with the toy soldiers defeats the mouse king and takes Clara on an enchanted journey. The second act finds the young couple in the Kingdom of Sweets, where confections dance for their entertainment.

But when Petipa handed over the synopsis, Tchaikovsky was appalled. Nothing sparked his interest and the music that emerged was dry and lifeless. He missed his first deadline for the performance.

Worse was yet to come. While traveling through Paris on his way to an American tour, Tchaikovsky learned about the death of his beloved sister Sasha. But in his grief he found inspiration for The Nutcracker. In Clara, he found a parallel for his sister. Memories of their childhood and the last Christmas they spent together, in 1890, sparked the music. The whole ballet transformed by his change in attitude. Tchaikovsky imagined himself as the magician Drosselmeyer. When Clara and the Nutcracker fight the Mouse King, Clara thwacks the rodent over the head with her slipper and breaks the spell, releasing the dashing Hans Peter. Heroism and freedom find voice in one of Tchaikovsky’s most longing melodies. Clara has become a woman, and in her the spirit of Sasha lives on.

The ballet’s second act is a reflection of the first, with the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince appearing as counterparts for Clara and Hans Peter. While the latter pair dance to a rising melody, the Sugar Plum Fairy’s pas de deux with the Prince is dominated by a solemn descending motif. The “Waltz of the Flowers,” with its brooding minor passages, echoes the triple-time dance through the snowflakes.

Despite its emotional power, the first audience in 1892 dismissed the ballet. Although the first act with the big Christmas tree and the children and the toy soldiers and the battle with the Mouse King is engaging, the second act hardly involves any drama at all; it’s just a series of colorful dances.

The libretto was criticized as not being faithful to the Hoffmann tale. Critics decried the featuring of children so prominently in the ballet*, and many bemoaned the fact that the prima ballerina did not dance until the Grand Pas de Deux near the end of the second act. Some found the transition between the “real” world of the first scene and the fantasy world of the second act too abrupt.

Response was more positive for Tchaikovsky’s score. One novelty in the score was the use of the celesta, a new instrument Tchaikovsky had discovered in Paris. He utilized it for the character of the Sugar Plum Fairy because of its “heavenly sweet sound”.

Despite the failure of its initial performance, The Nutcracker has become the most frequently performed of all ballets and has served as an introduction to classical music for many young people. It also would be young dancers’ first chance to perform in a ballet as well. Because the first act is set at a Christmas party, the ballet is often presented at Christmastime, and some major American ballet companies generate around 40% of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

*A sweet story about the children who participated in that first production: Apparently the children had a hard time learning the little toy instruments they were supposed to play on stage, and did not play them very well; but after the premier Tchaikovsky sent a note to all the children congratulating them on their performance and he sent each child a box of candy.

The information in this article came from:

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever seen The Nutcracker live? When our children were younger, we took them to see it at Princeton’s McCarter Theater and at Phoenix Symphony Hall. What other holiday entertainment traditions does your family enjoy? Share in the comments below.