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Friday, December 18, 2009

The Nutcracker Suite


On Dec. 18, 1882, Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” ballet debuted at St. Petersburg’s Imperial Maryinsky Theatre. However, it wasn’t until 1940 that an abridged one-act version of the ballet was first performed in the U.S. by Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo at the 51st Street Theater in New York City.

Four years later, the San Francisco Ballet performed the first full-length “Nutcracker.” George Balanchine choreographed the version most familiar to the ballet’s fans today. It premiered in 1954, performed by the New York City Ballet.

The ballet is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffman, “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” the tale of a German girl who dreams of a nutcracker prince and a battle with a mouse with seven heads. When it was first turned into a ballet, a revision of the story by Alexander Dumas became the basis for the piece.

If you can’t make it to one of the many local performances this season, the library has two film versions you can enjoy:

The Nutcracker.” Bolshoi Presents. DVD 792.84 N 2003

The Nutcracker.” Royal Ballet. VIDEO 702.8 N

For more on the history of the ballet, check out:

Nutcracker” Nation: How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition by Jennifer Fisher. 702.84 F 2003

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