The Nutcracker Returns

As December hits, Christmas approaches, and it’s “Nutcracker” season once more.

“The Nutcracker,” a holiday tradition for many, will be at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts’s Carol Morsani Hall Dec. 16 – 18. The famous ballet production will be performed by Straz’s resident ballet company, Next Generation Ballet (NGB), and a few principal dancers from New York City Ballet.

Ticket prices currently range from $45.00-$130.00.

NGB is a pre-professional dance company that prepares young dancers for future opportunities. Philip Neal, NGB’s artistic director, was formerly a principal dancer for theNew York City Ballet. As he was a principal dancer, he was of the highest rank within the company, possessing exemplary skill. He now brings these skills to each show he directs at Straz, including “The Nutcracker.”

Each production of “The Nutcracker” portrays its own unique view on the initial story, as new perspectives are introduced with each cast. In addition, the actual story of The Nutcracker has been altered many times throughout history.

The original, a book known as “Nutcracker and Mouse King,” written by Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (E.T.A. Hoffmann), had considerably darker themes within it, and starred a young girl named Maria as the main character, rather than Klara.

Alexandre Dumas, a French writer, took Hoffmann’s book and adapted it into “The Nutcracker,” which had less horror elements featured than in the original work, such as a mouse king with seven heads. Ivan Vsevolozhsky, who was the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, then commissioned a ballet based on Dumas’s adaptation of The Nutcracker.

During the production of The Nutcracker, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who is famously renowned for his music, was given the agency to compose music for the ballet. He was given specific instructions for how it should sound from Marius Petipa, a ballet master and choreographer. Petipa, shortly after, passed his duties on to Lev Ivanov, who then choreographed the majority of the show.

The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater, and was met with harsh criticism and backlash. Musically, however, it was well-received. Tchaikovsky selected a few songs and arranged them into the Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, with many enjoying it separately from the ballet.

Numerous productions of the ballet were performed as the years went by, and throughout these productions, various changes were made to its story and structure. Despite all these performances, it wasn’t until after “The Nutcracker” arrived in the western hemisphere that it started to gain popularity.