Nothing says Christmas like a performance of The Nutcracker ballet! The Nutcracker ballet is adapted from The Nutcracker and The Queen of Mice by ETA Hoffman. The basic story is of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle of against a Mouse King. The first ballet was commissioned in 1891 by the Moscow Imperial Theater. The music is by Tchaikovsky and it was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa. The composer selections known at the Nutcracker Suite Op 71a became instantly popular, but the ballet did not achieve its great prominence as a Christmas event until much later when it was performed out of Russia in Europe and the United States.
The first performance outside Russia was in England in 1934 and annual performances still take place by the English National Ballet. The first US adaptation was in 1944 performed by the San Francisco Ballet. It was not until 10 years later in 1954 that widespread popularity was reached with George Balanchine’s Nutcracker in New York City. George Balanchine is a renowned choreographer whose version utilizes more children and since Clara and the Nutcracker Prince are children there is no romance aspect. This and other versions across the world are an essential part of the Christmas season for many families.