From history, story, characters, auditions, preparations and what to wear, everything you wanted to know about the holiday season's classic Ballet, "The Nutcracker." Read on!
In a few weeks, the Nutcracker season will be on us. The idea of "The Nutcracker" seemed to embody all that makes ballet a household name. Hit tunes, dancing children, dancing toys, and even dancing sweets!
What’s not to like?
Nutcracker, a classic Christmas Story, is a fairy tale ballet. Conceptualized and first performed back in Christmas 1892, this ballet is the most popular dance to be performed around Christmas time even today.
Nutcracker’s story centers on a young girl’s Christmas Eve and her awakening to the wider world.
However, the ballet did not achieve its popularity as a Christmas performance until almost 100 years later.
Built on one of the great 19th century children’s stories, the National Ballet’s former artistic director James Kudelka presented a new version in 1995 that exudes vigor, wit, and briskness of a modern sensibility is the perfect model of perennial Christmas and a holiday gem.
For more than 125 years, this fairy-tale ballet is favorite the world over and performed at Christmas time. The story of this ballet revolves around the personal awakening of a young girl- Clara, over one Christmas.
The Nutcracker ballet is extremely popular because it beautifully combines adolescent dreams, magic, hope and fable along with comedy that makes this a hugely popular dance performance during the holidays. Before Nutcracker, no other serious dance form had taken childhood so seriously.
Dancing in "The Nutcracker" is a dream of many young ballet dancers. This child-friendly ballet offers several roles for children, providing tremendous opportunities for both actors and dancers. With many young characters to fill, ballet companies almost always hold open auditions for young children, about this time of the year.
We provide you with everything that you wish to know about this holiday tradition.
The Nutcracker Story- in a Nutshell
Based on the book- "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" - by E.T.A. Hoffman, History of 'The Nutcracker' Ballet is based on the story of a little girl Clara, who is celebrating Christmas with her family.
Town Mayor Stahlbaum’s children, Clara and Fritz are very excited on Christmas Eve, and as guests start arriving in their immaculately decorated home, they get thrilled seeing so many presents piling up near their beautifully trimmed Christmas tree. Just then, magician Drosselmeyer, who is also the godfather to the two children, enlivens the party with his life-size dancing dolls. His Christmas gift to the two children is a toy train for Fritz and a toy nutcracker for Clara.
While going to bed, Clara fetches up her nutcracker and falls asleep, clutching it.
Suddenly, Clara awakens and finds that there is a huge army of human-sized mice and a giant Mouse King along with Fritz' s toy soldiers, marching towards Clara's life-sized nutcracker. Clara helps her nutcracker defeat the mouse-king following an intense battle. When the Mouse King falls, Clara is transformed into a beautiful princess, while Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince.
They reach the land of snow, where they dance together. They then take a boat and arrive at the land of sweets, where the Sugar Plum fairy greets them. Clara then learns that the Nutcracker turned prince is the ruler of the Land of Sweets. Clara and the Prince are entertained by several dance performances like the Spanish Dance, the Arabian Dance, the Chinese Dance and the Waltz of the flowers at the Marzipan Castle.
It’s time for Clara to leave, and when she awakens, its Christmas morning and Clara finds herself sitting under her Christmas tree, holding her beloved nutcracker. The dream restores Clara's faith in the beauty of the Christmas spirit and believing in magic.
The Nutcracker Today
Traditionally, the Nutcracker is not a love story, "The Nutcracker" ballet has many interpretations, resulting in several different plots and character names. Most ballet companies still follow the same basic conventions established by the first version: a little girl heroine, her mysterious godfather (the magician Drosselmeyer), a battle between the nutcracker, toy soldiers and mice, a forest glade of dancing Snowflakes, a ballerina Sugarplum Fairy in a tutu presiding over a realm of Sweets. But variations abound.
However, the beauty of this traditional ballet sequence is that it provides a lot of scope for every actor and dancer who wishes to be a part of the performance. The ballet is not just about Clara, and the Nutcracker turned prince, the protagonists, but also about dancing snowflakes, the snow queen, soldiers, Drosselmeyer, the sugar plum fairy, the soldiers, mice soldiers, mouse king, and many more characters. The ballet itself is set with some phenomenal music and a lot of backdrop changes.
How to prepare for The Nutcracker Auditions
As a dancer or a dance parent, start with a little research around your community and find out which local companies or studios are planning to present a performance. If you can find an open audition, you must go for it. Even if you don't get selected, it is an excellent opportunity to get some exposure. As shared earlier, there are plenty of roles, and therefore chances of your kid getting picked for one or the other part are high.
Parts of the act require some children to be good dancers, so make sure your child has practiced some routines. Ask your children to work on their Flexibility and maintain a healthy routine before auditions. Help your children practice expressing various emotions like happy, excited, sad or angry as many scenes require emotive capabilities.
Be prepared to invest about six-eight weeks of rehearsals, as performances begin in early or mid-December. Make sure your kids manage their school and dance routines well. See tips here.
The Full Elastic Waist Tutu by Body Wrappers or the Super Soft Glitter Tutu is an excellent choice for little ballerinas performing the Waltz of the Flowers. Pair these tutus with matching pink tights and leotards.
For little girls, the Mirella Youth Tutu Leotard is also an excellent choice.
The Ultimate Nutcracker Checklist
While you rush from rehearsals to classrooms, here is a fool-proof way to ensure you have everything ready much before the performance.
- Dress- Tights ( keep a few extra in the same shades) Leotards, tutus, shoes
- Q-tips & Cotton balls
- Safety pins
- First Aid kit
- Energy Bars, Trail Mix
- Plenty of water to drink
- Accessories- Hair ties, hair bands, U-pins, Bunheads, performance lashes, etc.
A little souvenir remembering the amazing Christmas classic is something anybody would love. It would certainly leave a holiday feel and the beauty of the performance. Shop for some lovely souvenirs at https://www.on1dancewear.com/collections/nutcracker
Christmas is all about giving, sharing, and believing in the beauty of life and it’s magic. With “The Nutcracker” ballet, young dancers can learn life values in a way they could remember for the rest of their lives.