The Nutcracker: 130 years anniversary

Translation to the 2020’s post.

The end of the year has a soundtrack. Due to the tradition and the plot involving Christmas, the music from the ballet The Nutcracker plays, almost uninterruptedly, from November to January. For those who have danced, there are feelings of nostalgia and boredom with the work, after all, it usually marks the debut of many students on stage and then, an end-of-year “obligation”.

Written by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1892, it was one of the composer’s last works (the last was the 6th symphony), and the ballet premiered in Russia on December 18 of the same year.

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet with a prologue, based on the short story by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1816) on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. In it, little Clara (or Marie) helps the Nutcracker to win the battle, on Christmas Eve and is taken by him to the Candy Kingdom, to celebrate.

It is at this celebration that the Sugar Plum Fairy dances with her partner for Clara. In some versions, it is the young woman herself who dances with the Nutcracker (already transformed into a prince).

The original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov is still danced by the Royal Ballet in London. At Kirov and Bolshoi, choreographies have already been completely changed. The Bolshoi, by Yuri Grigorovich, has been the same for 54 years, therefore super traditional.

Mikhail Baryshnikov‘s filmed version for the American Ballet Theater, with Gelsey Kirland, was a hit in the 1970s. In Baryshnikov’s version, the pas-de-deux becomes pas-de-trois. Recently ABT revised the production and today presents Alexei Ratmansky‘s version.

Rudolf Nureyev created his own version and also made his creation, which was considered daring at the time.

The most traditional, however, is Georges Balanchine‘s definitive version of the New York City Ballet. For the first time in 66 years, because of the pandemic, it stopped being presented live to the public. You can watch it online or on Netflix.


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