This Christmas, we've taken advantage of being at home to sample a bit of what Houston has to offer on the cultural scene. This meant a trip to the MFAH to see their King Tut exhibit and to the Worthen Center for the Houston Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.
The cost of seeing the King Tut exhibit was bankrolled by my grandmother this year. For what it cost, however, the exhibit was absolutely worth it. It think we spent three to three and a half hours carefully working our way through the cases. The core of the gallery was a stylized recreation of King Tutankhamen's tomb with key pieces from each of the chambers. This was contextualized by several rooms worth of Egyptian art that included everything from megalithic statues, to a death mask, to a toilet seat from Amarna. There was an audio guide that went with the exhibit as well narrated by Harrison Ford that was worth the extra price. Included for free were a series of videos that explained in further depth the importance, or the discovery, or the fabrication of different objects.
Scratch that off the bucket list.
The Nutcracker seems to me a fantasy in the old sense of the word. It is an excuse to create things that don't exist in our world. As is typical of most pre-Tolkien fantasy, the imagined world of the ballet exists/is reached in a dream. Like all fantasy, however, The Nutcracker re-enchants our our own world by refreshing things that have become mundane: Christmas, midnight, sweets, and dreams.
I appreciated this particular production of The Nutcracker for the literalness of its interpretation. I know next to nothing about ballet, and the concreteness of the performance made it much easier to understand the story and general project of the piece. The ballerina who played Clara did a good job of helping to connect the audience with the wonder of the different plot elements.