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Dancing for Joy: Teddy bears in tutus and bunnies at the barre are artist favorites. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 12:20

Delicate and whimsical, pretty and petite, “Alisia” is a OOAK gray-blue ballerina by Mr. Bear Family.
Bearington Collection has a rehearsal studio’s abundance of ballet-ready bears. Here are TippyToe bears in large and little sizes.
Joining Bearington’s troupe of ballerinas is this bunny performer.
Build-A-Bear unveils an amiable cub in a cute dancing tog.
Designed for young girls who are studying ballet, “Petunia” is a dancing buddy made by Douglas Toys. Yes, she’s a mouse, but she’s “on pointe.”
“Anna the Ballerina” was a Teddy Bear Review cover girl. The homage to Anna Pavlova was designed by Australian artist Kerrie Mouat.
Anna Pavlova—one of the world’s most illustrious dancers.
“Lotte” is a Steiff interpretation of an agile, graceful performer.
“Ariella” is part of the Time to Dance Series from Russ Berrie.
A pair of ballerinas awaits their cue, courtesy of Grand Canyon Bears.
Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov earned ovations during the 1970s and 1980s . . .
. . . Just like these Ballet Barre Bears.
Radio City Music Hall is home of the Christmas Spectacular.
It features a double-decker bus that rolls onto stage, complete with a singing and dancing ensemble.
The Rockettes aren’t garbed as teddy bears, but they form a kick-line of plush, performing reindeer.
For 2011’s special holiday release, Muffy VanderBear took to the stage of the Bear City Music Hall to perform “The Nutcracker.” (Courtesy of Angelic Dreamz)
Delicate and whimsical, pretty and petite, “Alisia” is a OOAK gray-blue ballerina by Mr. Bear Family.
01/16 
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Now that it’s October, to a lot of retailers’ minds, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Christmas. Never mind that we haven’t even donned Halloween costumes yet, but there are hints of red and green and peppermint-striped tights in department stores and online. We are already racing toward a winter wonderland and a merry Noel.

Living on the East Coast, I have been bombarded with Season’s Greetings messages from Radio City Music Hall. The home of the kick-line Rockettes have been fashioning e-vites, print offers, and telemarketing calls asking if I (and thousands of others) want to attend their splashy, sparkly Christmas Spectacular.

I’ve talked it over with my kids, and we’re almost always up for anything that promises to be showy and discounted. This is both. When they asked me to describe what happens during the Spectacular to make it so spectacular, I didn’t even have to exaggerate.

“Picture, “ I said, “a full-size double-decker bus, filled with singing and dancing chorus girls, surrounded by Santa and his elves, rolling across the stage, followed by camels and llamas, serenaded by an all-boy choir, which then parts and reveals a living Nativity scene, that then concludes with a ballet performed by dancing dolls, tin soldiers, and teddy bears. And that’s just Act One.”

As you can imagine, that full-on assault of the senses—complete with tinsel, confetti, and strobe lights—is catnip for my children. They’ve never seen an over-the-top production that they haven’t wanted to join.

We’re going to see one of the showings of the Rockettes and company, and our discount tickets will soon be winging their way to us. In the meantime, I’m keeping my enthusiasm up with these shots of dancing teddy bears.

Yep, I wasn’t kidding. I recall from my own childhood excursion to this extravaganza that a bevy of bears pirouetted, “arabesqued,” and toe danced their way across the massive stage to the strains of Tchaikovsky. It was remarkable—so much so that I can still summon it up decades later.

Sure, I know the Spectacular is overkill, but where else can you even have the hope of seeing a company of tap-dancing Teddies? There’s nowhere else.

The appeal of a big, burly animal in a delicate, feminine tutu must hold a fascination for lots of folks, because so many bear artists and companies have issued characters that are dressed like ursine versions of Natalia Makarova and Dame Margot Fonteyn. (Two of the world’s most famous and lauded prima ballerinas, these two women set the standard of excellence for generations of fans.) During my childhood, I was lucky enough to have gone to the Christmas Spectacular, as well as to performances of the American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center. I became a fan of the purest, most classic versions of dance, but I also developed a sincere affection for large, oversized schmaltz!

Witnessing these teddy bears that look like they could easily be paired with Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev, I have to smile. It’s impossible to resist their open-armed and pointed-toe charms. They remind me of happy, carefree days of my youth. I haven’t thought about the exhilarating performances and the standing ovations for quite some time. And I wouldn’t have, if I hadn’t gotten a double-decker bus’s worth of Christmas-show vouchers.

For that visit from my past, and a promise of family togetherness in my future, I’ve had my own Scrooge-like encounter in the fall. It really was Christmas in October.