One of the great holiday NYC theater presentations over the holiday period is ‘The Nutcracker’ (The other is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular). The George Balanchine choreographed ballet is presented each year At the Lincoln Center in Midtown from late November through to the end of December and it is a must-see for New York natives and NYC visitors alike.
In 1919, a young George Balanchine danced the role of the Prince in a Russian production of the “The Nutcracker. Later, after he had taken up residence in NYC he choreographed his own version and the rest is history. The first performance was held on Feb 1954 and it has been staged annually since over the holiday period.
Much beloved by children as well as their parents ‘The Nutcracker’ is the story of a young girl whose favorite toy is a Nutcracker which comes alive and defeats the loathsome Mouse King who is attacking everything the young girl loves. Then she and her friend the prince are taken to a magical land populated by dolls.
When it is on ‘The Nutcracker’ uses the full resources of the New York City Ballet, the company that Balanchine founded when he came to NYC. So 90 dancers, 62 muscians, 32 stage hands and a total of 100 young ballet students help mount the production, see the video which gives a brief behind the scenes tour before a performance.
As well as dancing to the rich and evocative music of Tschaikovsky, the dancers wear costumes originally designed by one of Balanchine’s fellow Russians, Karinska, and the whole production is framed by sets designed by Balanchine’s original set desinger Reuben Ter-Arutunian.
Incorporated into the performance are numerous surprise elements which delight the audience and which keep the production fresh for everyone. It is a very complex ballet to stage but on the whole the ballet is very well known to the audience and so apart from the ‘surprises’ there is also the comfort of each well known part of the ballet unfolding before the audience.
So a ballet which was once quintessentially Russian has now acquired a new identity which, while true to its roots, is now a thoroughly New York creation. And a very, very beautiful creation and wonderfully d it is. If you want to go book tickets here: ‘the Nutcracker’ Tickets