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Leave It On the Dance Floor

Join Sydney Derbas as she tells the history of “The Nutcracker Ballet.”

“The Nutcracker Ballet” was first performed in December 1892. The story is about a girl who befriends a nutcracker who comes to life on Christmas Eve and wages a battle against the evil Mouse King. She then goes to sleep and has dreams that she is in the “Land of Sweets.” The ballet has several different scenes including The Party Scene, The Battle, The Waltz of the Snowflakes, The Land of Sweets, and the most popular: The Waltz of the Flowers. 

The music is by Peter Tchaikovsky and the ballet was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa. One of Tchaikovsky’s most famous pieces of work is “The Nutcracker.” He has written music for many other ballets including “Swan Lake ” and “Sleeping Beauty.” “The Nutcracker” has become the most popular ballet performed around the world during Christmas time. The first performance of the Nutcracker ballet was held as a double premiere together with Tchaikovsky’s last opera, “Iolanta,” around the Christmas holiday season on December 18, 1892, at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since then, many professional and non-professional dance companies around the world have performed “The Nutcracker.” 

Another “Nutcracker” that is professionally performed is George Balanchine’s. Balanchine is a well-renowned ballet choreographer known around the world. Balanchine is also a co-founder of The New York City Ballet Company which was founded in 1948. Balanchine created his version of “The Nutcracker” in 1954 to unlock viewer’s imaginations and make it a bit more child-friendly.  When the ballet was first performed by New York City Ballet, there were 47 dancers. Now there are closer to 150 dancers that can be involved in the ballet, depending on the company.

In 1993, Balanchine’s performance of “The Nutcracker” was recorded and now everyone in the world can watch the video. Balanchine’s “Nutcracker” is still performed to this day and many people travel to New York to see it because for many it is a tradition. Since “The Nutcracker” has been performed for so many years, some companies have changed the choreography to make it their own. Many companies keep the basic story but change it slightly to incorporate more dancers. The costumes that most professional dance companies use are handmade and reused for many years.  In fact, The New York City Ballet uses 150 of the original costumes on stage. The company also uses many props that have been a part of the production since the beginning. The company’s 1-ton, 41-foot Christmas tree has been used for the production since the beginning. That is just one of the many props the company uses today.

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About the Contributor
Sydney Derbas
Sydney Derbas, Staff Writer
Sydney Derbas is a senior and she is a first-year staff writer for The Voice. She has been dancing for 15 years and she is a part of the Huntley Orchesis Dance Company. In her free time, she likes to hang out with friends, go shopping, and spend time with family.

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