A little girl named Clara falls asleep under the Christmas tree with her beloved new toy, the Nutcracker. Suddenly he comes to life and, with his army of toy soldiers, engages in an intense battle with the Mouse King and his army. The brave Clara charges the Mouse King with her slipper, helping the Nutcracker win the battle. The Nutcracker turns into a Prince and takes Clara to the Land of Snow and the Land of Sweets, where they are entertained by a celebration of dances… Until Clara awakes from the fascinating dream.
Such is the story of The Nutcracker. From a children’s tale by E.T.A. Hoffman, it was transformed into an elaborate ballet production that is especially popular during the holiday season. Not only is the ballet set at Christmas, it also embraces the season’s spirit – the triumph of good, acceptance and good will.
Peter Tchaikovsky, composer of the brilliant Swan Lake, wrote music for the Nutcracker. Bearing influence from the Romantic Period and 18th century Rococo (“Late Baroque”), the composition contains some of his most memorable melodies (frequently used in television and film). The eight selected numbers from the ballet known as the Nutcracker Suite became very popular on the concert stage.
Even though the ballet’s 1892 debut in Russia wasn’t received positively, it has gained popularity around the world and especially in the U.S. since the 1960s. The ballet is great for families with children. It is performed widely by some the most celebrated dance companies in the US, including the San Francisco Ballet and the New York City Ballet.