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.
The Nutcracker Ballet Story
The annual Christmas Eve party at the Stahlbaum house with dancing and the children, Clara and Fritz playing. The godfather, Drosselmeyer arrives and presents gifts of two life size dolls one of which is a Nutcracker for Clara. Fritz gets jealous and breaks the Nutcracker. Although repaired, as the scene ends with worried Clara falling asleep under the tree with the Nutcracker in her arms. As the clock strikes midnight, Clara shrinks, the tree grows and the toys come to life. An army of mice led by the Mouse King battle the Nutcracker who enlists his own army. Clara steps in and throws a slipper at the Mouse King rendering him lifeless and his mice army carries him away. The Nutcracker then turns into a Price and takes Clara on a journey of dancing snowflakes in the Land of Snow.
The Prince escorts Clara to the Land of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The Prince tells her about their daring battle with the army of mice and she rewards them with a celebration of dances. As a finale, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince Coqueluche dance the Pas de Deux followed by the final waltz. Clara awakens from her dream and finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved Nutcracker.
Have you ever seen The Nutcracker? Where did you see it and did you enjoy it? Let us know in the comments!