The History of The Nutcracker
In 1816, E.T.A. Hoffman, a young German writer, published The Nutcracker the King of the Mice. A dark psychological story, no one would have predicted this tale would become the basis for a family tradition that at the beginning of the 21st century is still growing in popularity.
In Czarist Russia, 1891, Marius Petipa and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky were commissioned to create a ballet based on a watered down French adaptation of the original Hoffman tale written by Alexander Dumas. The pairing was not a happy one because the two had differing opinions on how to approach the work. On December 18th, 1892 The Nutcracker (Casse Noisette) was premiered at the Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia to mixed reviews.
The Nutcracker became just another part of the ongoing Russian repertoire but was not thought of as a seasonal offering and was as likely to be seen in May as December. It was performed only in Russia until after World War 1 and the Russian Revolution when dance refugees moved out into the world and segments of The Nutcracker were occasionally revived. It wasn’t until 1944 that North America saw a full length Nutcracker. That historic event took place at the War Memorial Opera House, performed by the San Francisco Ballet and choreographed by Lew Christensen. Still it was another ten years before The Nutcracker became a true phenomenon, when George Balanchine who had performed the ballet as a young dancer in Russia staged it for his New York City Ballet in 1954. After this NYCB version was televised as a holiday special, the stage was set for The Nutcracker to become a seasonal ritual as it was seen in living rooms across the United States and Canada. Click here for a fascinating article from the New York Times about the history of The Nutcracker in the US.
In December 2005, Alameda Civic Ballet added to this glorious holiday and dance tradition, debuting its first full length version of The Nutcracker at the historic Kofman Theater in Alameda, California. In 2009, ACB continues this heartwarming holiday tradition.
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All photos are courtesy of Rapt Productions and may not be reproduced without permission. For more information, go to www.dancedvdstore.com
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Corey Scott-Gilbert from Lines Ballet as the Sugar Plum Prince.
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Meredith Webster as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Corey Scott-Gilbert as her Prince, in their pas de deux.
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Clara receives her Nutcracker in the opening Party Scene of The Nucracker.
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The girls dance with their new dolls in the Party Scene.
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The girls dance for joy in the Party Scene.
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Drosselmeyer works his magic.
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The Mother and Father dance after their guests have left.
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The Rat King sneaks up on the sleeping Clara.
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The Rats fight the Soldiers over Clara.
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Jamielyn Duggan as The Snow Queen and Damon Mahoney as the Snow King, dance.
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Clara awakes in the Land of Snowflakes.
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The Snowflakes dance in the Land of the Snowflakes.
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Patricia Perez as the Sugar Plum Fairy, and David Fonnegra as her Prince welcome Clara and the Nutcracker to the Land of Sweets.
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Here comes the Russian Licorice!
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Arabian Coffee weaves their beautiful dance.