Hello ladies and gents!
Today I wanted to give a short but sweer history of the Nutcracker ballet! As you’ve probably seen or read, this week includes my Nutcracker performances and since I am so excited for them, I wanted to write posts based off of this theme.
Anyway, if you didn’t know this already, the story of the Nutcracker was originally written in 1816 by a German writer named E.T.A. Hoffmann. The story was originally titled “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and was a darker, creepier tale then the one embodied on stage during the ballet. By the 1850s, a man named Alexander Dumas revised the original Nutcracker tale, and cheered it up to be a happier, more magical story.
The cheerier version of the story is what inspired Marius Petipa to choreograph the first Nutcracker ballet in 1892 (he also choreographed La Bayadere, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty). When Petipa became sick while setting the piece, he handed over the choreographic resonsibilities to Lev Ivanov. Petipa and Ivanov partnered with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky who composed the score for the show. The musical score was a large part of the ballet’s original success.
The ballet didn’t make it to the U.S.A. until 1940 when the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo toured to America and brought the Nutcracker with them. By 1954, George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet choreographed the Nutcracker on his company and first performed it in February of that year. Balanchine is credited as being the first choregographer to recognize the holiday appeal of the Nutcracker ballet, and in 1955, the New York City Ballet performed the Nutcracker in December. Since then, the Nutcracker has been a holiday classic for dance and ballet companies everywhere.
It is crazy to think the Nutcracker was originally written in the beginning of the 1800s, and now in 2017 companies are still performing this work countless times between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t think E.T.A. Hoffmann ever expected his creepy story to EVER gain as much popularity as it has, but it is incredible how this century old story is brought to life every year to celebrate Christmas! It is such a deep part of American holiday culture, and it all began with a story written 201 years ago!
I hope you enjoyed this piece of dance history, and tune in for more of my Nutcracker related posts! Happy Holidays!