On This Day

December 18, 2018

“The Nutcracker” debuted in
St. Petersburg

How the Russian ballet became the quintessential
American Christmas tale.

On This Day

Multinational Masterpiece

  • SCORE: Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (“Swan Lake”).
  • STORY: A French author revamped a dark German tale into a story about a girl who dreams her Nutcracker doll saves her from a Mouse King, becomes a prince, & takes her to the Land of the Sweets where dancers represent different countries & desserts.
On This Day

A 126-Year Tradition

  • 1892: Performed for first time ever in St. Petersburg, Russia to a lukewarm reception.​
  • 1934: Performed in England by Vic-Wells Ballet (now Royal Ballet).​
  • 1944: San Francisco Ballet stages USA’s first full-length production.​
  • 1954: Choreographer & New York City Ballet founder George Balanchine premieres own version at Lincoln Center.​
On This Day

“Ballet is important and significant—yes. But first of all, it is a pleasure.”

George Balanchine credited with establishing the link between “The Nutcracker” and the Christmas season in America. His version of "The Nutcracker" was broadcast nationally on Christmas Day in 1957 & 1958 and is now one of the most frequently performed ballets with professional and regional dance companies performing various versions across the globe throughout December.
On This Day

The Nutcracker keeps ballet a part of American culture. It's often a child's first experience w/ ballet & classical music and importantly, ticket sales serve in many cases as the economic backbone of dance companies, often contributing up to 40% of yearly income.

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Co-authored by Jean-Marie R. Bralley, a freelance writer & ballerina with Charlottesville Ballet based in Charlottesville, VA.