The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. It is a delightful story, taking the reader on an imaginary journey that includes meeting a nutcracker that comes to life, an evil mouse king and a magical kingdom inhabited by dolls. Tchaikovsky’s adaptation of this story has become the well-known ballet, The Nutcracker.
The original production of The Nutcracker took place in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 6, 1892. The first complete performance outside Russia occurred in England fifty-two years later, in 1934. From the late 1960’s, The Nutcracker in its entirety became extremely popular and in the U.S. is now performed primarily during the Christmas season.
My first encounter with The Nutcracker was in 1978. As an elementary school music teacher, I accompanied my students to an abbreviated performance and immediately became a fan. Within ten years, little did I know I would have a daughter performing in The Nutcracker with this same dance company, delighting children with this magical story through dance.
Last week I shared how our family is grounded in tradition, especially at Christmas. Watching a live performance of The Nutcracker has been a family favorite for many years. There were some years we missed attending a live performance, but it made the next time more exciting. Our last trip to the Fox Theater to watch the Atlanta Ballet’s performance was two years ago, so perhaps next year we’ll add this to our list of holiday musts.
When I think about the future, it includes many years of sharing this wonderful story with grandchildren, great nieces, and nephews, and it’s not a bad thought. If you’ve never attended a ballet performance, you might want to make your first one The Nutcracker. I guarantee you’ll have a magical time.