Monday, December 10, 2007

The Nutcracker Ballet-Then and Now

This past weekend was filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas! It had been several years since we had taken the children to see the Nutcracker Ballet. I have a movie version that we watch every year and I play the music all the time, so they are familiar with the main story line. About four years ago we took the children to a Fort Worth Ballet version that I absolutely adored…incredible scenery, wonderful choreography…it was enchanting! However, my son was terrified by the mice. He never wanted to go to see this story again! The only good memory he came away with was the guy who introduced the ballet, our local weatherman Bill Taylor!

This Christmas I saw that Russia’s Moscow Classical Ballet was arriving in town to perform the Nutcracker! We scraped money together to see this and we went Sat night. We had about an hour before the performance began so the children spent their time looking at the beautiful architecture through the binoculars…their idea! They kept telling me about the wonderful things they were seeing.The auditorium was built in the early 1900’s and I was telling them that many buildings in this time were built in this grand style.

While waiting, I also made everyone read their programs! Before we went, ds started asking questions about the ballet and I happened to mention that although the Nutcracker sticks to the main story line, there are different interpretations. He didn’t understand and asked for details, so I explained what I have learned over the years. Well, after glancing through the program, I saw that this version would be far different from any I had ever seen. So I made everyone read the programs so they wouldn’t get too confused! We all agreed this was going to be different!

This version opened with a snow scene. Herr Drosselymeyer is played by a young man with graying hair and eye patch, yet he can dance and leap quite high in stunning style! He presents Masha (Clara) and Fritz with toys…which are actually people (ballet dancers). During the party the parents act out the mice story. Masha is a young lady who dreams and sees the battle with the mice, her Nutcracker Prince falls in love with her, she becomes the Snow Queen Fairy and Sugar Plum Fairy, therefore dancing 2 gorgeous Pas de Duex with the Prince. At the end, she wakes up Christmas morning, when Herr Drosselmeyer brings his nephew to her (who looks a lot like that Nutcracker Prince); they embrace and the curtains close. Sigh.

At the end, my dd and I agreed we had enjoyed it more than the guys, though with mixed emotions. We all agreed the choreography and scenery wasn’t as complicated as what we had seen in "Sleeping Beauty." We probably enjoyed it because it was beautiful…but it was also a romance! Sigh…. It ended exactly the way I would have wanted it to! However, DS was bored with the mice scene! Dh was just plain bored, and he likes going to these kinds of things. We talked about all the various versions we had read and seen before and wondered which one was most like the first one?

I figured there had to be an explanation to all this. When we got home, I noticed the front cover of the program…"The Original Nutcracker". I did a little research on line and got excited! This is the original Moscow version of the Russian story written by the famed Russian composer performed by the Moscow Classical Ballet!!! None of this was mentioned in the program, which is a shame. Ds is more impressed, but he still thinks it was boring. Well, dd and I loved it anyway! Next time I’m going to do some research before we go, hoping that will make a difference for the guys. I know I would have enjoyed it even more had I known. I would have imagined myself in 1919 Moscow watching this! Sigh….

This tells you a little of the Moscow version

This is the link for the Moscow Classical Ballet


  1. Oooooo, lucky you! I haven't been to a ballet in many, many years. My kids and I watch the Nutcracker every year on video. When they are older (and the little one will sit still long enough), I plan to take them.

    As if I wasn't already sold on TOG- your children's progress with it (along with others I know) is great!

  2. Annaleigh has been in a production of the NC since she was 6 years old and has played everything from a mouse to a party girl to an angel to a gingersnap and this year, Clara. Believe it or not, last year was the first year she actually saw a production of it (besides her videos). It was wonderful!

  3. Wow, that sounds so wonderful Laurie!! I didn't have time to explore all the links you posted (it's very late) but I will tomorrow. So glad you got to have this experience!



  4. I have never seen a ballet, but this story sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe we'll try something like that next year.