Tolkien, artist

Holiday Traditions - The Nutcracker Ballet

So The Nutcracker ballet is one of the most beloved ballets in modern times and perhaps is the most performed ballet in the world. But when it debuted on December 17, 1892 in the Maryinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia, it was panned and received horrible reviews. The music and the choreography were both given extremely poor reviews and Tchaikovsky was terribly depressed by its lack of success. He pulled short bits from the musical score, making a twenty-minute conglomeration which he released separately, and that was a success.

Photo of Stanislava Belinskaya as Clara (left), an unknown performer (center),
& Vassily Stulkolin as Fritz (right) in the Imperial Ballet's original production of the Petipa/Ivanov/Tchaikovsky ballet "The Nutcracker". December 1892

The amazing George Balanchine staged a successful production of The Nutcracker in 1954 for the New York City Ballet and it became a holiday standard, produced and staged often during the Christmas season in the 1960's. Today it is a ballet classic and is usually staged by multiple dance companies throughout the world at the holiday season. In fact, it is so omnipresent that often it is the only ballet that many have seen at all.

This scene is from the Boston Ballet production of 2010.

This lovely duo dances in The Nutcracker production from the Atlanta Ballet in 2012.

So that brings me to the question. Have you seen The Nutcracker? And secondarily, have you seen any other ballet performances? My mother adored the ballet and my aunt was a renowned performer and teacher of modern dance, so I saw many different dance performances as I was growing up. But my DH doesn't care for dance, so it is not something that we have seen as a couple. I love the pure excitement that can be conveyed by finely toned bodies and expressed in the movement that is dance, and it is NOT easy. To be a top dancer is a non-stop daily multiple-hour exercise through movement and pain. There are no days off. The dancers have my total admiration.
Funnily enough, although I've been to a lot of ballet performances, I've never see the Nutcracker, although I'd like to. The ballet that stands out in my memory is Giselle. I saw it at Covent Garden and the whole evening was electric. I'm amazed at the total control the dancers have over their bodies - down to their fingertips.
Oh, I love Giselle. It's totally magical. Seeing it at Covent Garden would be truly amazing! Thanks for sharing and mentioning Giselle. I hadn't thought of that one for a few years and my memory of it is joyous.

- Erulisse (one L)
I took ballet for years (though not as long as my cousin who got her teacher's certification) Love The Nutcracker, took my daughters to see it as Christmas treats when they were small. I don't really have a favourite, though I'll always love classics like The Firebird and Swan Lake (cliched but always magical)

And you're right, it's not an easy world. Professionals have to be strong and tough with a high pain threshold.
I took Modern Dance for at least ten years. I always was too clunky for delicate toe work and never could quite get my hand positions at the correct angles for beauty. But I love dance in general - all kinds, and I have a tremendous admiration for anyone who stayed with ballet because I know the physical conditioning and pain that dancers go through.

The Firebird is so beautiful. Swan Lake is hard to diss, but I always loved others a bit more. I also liked the non-traditional dances like "Billy the Kid" and "Apollo". I love watching the men dance.

- Erulisse (one L)
CT City Ballet brings back Spartacus every few years, which is amazing to watch. All that male energy and power feels so different. Of course they have to use every male dancer in the company and clean out the ballet school to get enough dancers for the corps, lol.
Hardly ever been to the ballet - I clearly remember seeing La Fille mal gardée and I think the other one was Cinderella...
I'm not familiar with La Fille Mal Gardee, but Cinderella is delightful with some very nice group dances and a lovely pairing between the Prince and Cinderella. I must admit, I do love the ballet even though I have nobody here who would go to a performance with me :-(

- Erulisse (one L)
I saw the Nutcracker when I was 11. We went to the New Victoria Theatre in the West End in London and watched The London Festival Ballet. I was enchanted. It seemed magical to a little girl whose only colour in life came from her imagination.

The last ballet I saw was the Ballet Rambert; can't remember what they performed. I was lucky enough to have a box seat overlooking the stage when I went to see Matthew Bournes Swan Lake - now that was a treat for the eyes ;D
* I went to see Matthew Bournes Swan Lake* Oohhh *envies*. Closest I've been to seeing it has been YouTube.
Oh, Matthew Bournes Swan I would have loved to see that!

I agree - ballet can be totally magical.

- Erulisse (one L)
My first time watching the 'Nutcracker' was when I was very young. All I can remember is a very tall dancer on roller skates with little children pouring out from under her skirts.
I've seen several productions since then, and I always have the music on at Christmastime. The Royal Ballet of London has a new HD of the Nutcracker, and I've got it on my wish list.. . I guess it is one of my favorites.

Here is a slip of Dylan Gurierrez dancing the Snow King. Dylan is a dancer in the Jeoffry Ballet in Chicago. I've got him on my Twitter, and it is fun to see behind the scenes of a very talented dancer. In many ways he's really young, but my goodness what a dedicated artist!

I did get to see Nureyev, but that was only once and I was quite young. I haven't forgotten, though.

I'd love to go to see the Ballet in Chicago someday, but seats up front are over a hundred dollars. MIght be worth it for a once in a lifetime experience, but I'm not sure that my DH would think so.

Laurent Liotardo also dances, only he is with the English National Ballet. If you enjoy ballet photos, check out his gallery.

I also took lessons as a kid. I only remember hiding in the bathroom for much of the lesson because it was such hard work.

BTW I like your new icon. It isn't on Amazon yet, but I will be keeping my eyes open.

How wonderful to see the clip you referenced and to look through the wonderful photographs.

I wish I had a friend who loved ballet and lived up here who would go with me. My DH would have to be dragged to the theatre kicking and screaming - it's really not worth the scene. - LOL

- Erulisse (one L)
I suffered horribly thru the stupid thing as a child and then to make matters worse they forced that damned swan lake down my throat.

I am not into ballet; never was and until the day I die I never will be.

Give me the music, fine, but dayham what is with all the stupid torture of the female dancers and stuff? I never understood it and that's that I guess.

Now don't think I don't like dance per se, I love native dances, folk dances. Just not that froufrou stuff. LOL Which is probably why I enjoyed Rite of Spring; but that's the only one.
Many folk and native dances just end up boring me - no choreography. I do like flamenco (when done well) and a few other types of dancing, but I adore ballet.

In essence it is similar to other arts - musicians will practice until their fingers bleed, dancers dance until their feet do. If you are at the top of your field, you do tend to be very myopic and focused to the extent of pushing everything else away from you. Ballet is highly competitive, so the dancers tend to practice at least eight hours every day just to keep their position within the Corps de Ballet.

- Erulisse (one L)
I've been to a few ballets but never The Nutcracker, though a recording of the score was one of my prized possessions as a child.
It is beautiful music, isn't it? I am always astounded by how many musical pieces that we love today were so hated when they originally debuted. Thank goodness times and tastes change :-)

- Erulisse (one L)
I saw the Nutcracker by child ballet dancers at a school auditorium. They were amazing. I have never seen a professional troupe live.
Oh, if you loved the child ballet dancers you would love a professional troupe. If you ever have a chance to see a troupe in a performance, treat yourself to a ticket and a magical evening.

- Erulisse (one L)