The ballet The Nutcracker has become an age old tradition in many families and the same can be said for dancers as each year studios across the world prepare for this age old ballet. We as dancers know all of the steps and characters in the ballet The Nutcracker, but do you know the history of it.
The music for The Nutcracker was created by Pyotr Tchaikovsky with the original choreography being made by Marius Petipa. The first performance of the ballet was in December 1892.
The ballet is loosely based on the E.T.A. Hoffmann fantasy story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. This story is about a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King. The Hoffmann story is darker and more troubling than the version that is usually re-enacted on stage.
The first performance of The Nutcracker was presented at Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre on a double bill with Tchaikovsky’s one-act opera, Lolanta. And surprisingly, this ballet was not well received on its first performance.
Not only where the scenery and costumes thought of as tasteless, but the performance of the ballerina who danced the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy was widely criticized. On top of all of this Petipa had fallen ill and the choreography was instead devised by his less-inspired assistant.
How it Succeeds Today
To put it simply a world filled with magic, toys, Christmas trees, snowflakes, and candy, all set to the score that Tchaikovsky dreamed up is perfect for the holiday season, no matter what your background is. The ballet has captured the eternal fantasy and of Christmas and makes the imagination of children wonder. With magic 7 foot trees and nutcrackers that come to life, what is not to love?
Tchaikovsky never got to see the success of this ballet, but each year families gather around the stage and enjoy the wonderful world he helped create through his music.