The Classic Christmas Story Ballet
The origin of the Nutcracker, a classic Christmas Story, is a fairy tale ballet in two acts centered on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. Alexandre Dumas Père’s adaptation of the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by Tchaikovsky and originally choreographed by Marius Petipa. It was commissioned by the director of Moscow’s Imperial Theatres, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, in 1891, and premiered a week before Christmas 1892. Since premiering in western countries in the 1940s, this ballet has become perhaps the most popular to be performed around Christmas time. The story centers on a young girl’s Christmas Eve and her awakening to the wider world and romantic love. The composer made a selection of eight of the more popular pieces before the ballet’s December 1892 premiere, forming what is currently known as the Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a, as is heard in Moscow Ballet productions. The suite became instantly popular; however the complete ballet did not achieve its great popularity as a Christmas performance event until almost 100 years later.
Imperial Ballet's original production of The Nutcracker, circa 1900.
1994 Great Russian Nutcracker with M Alexandrova and V Zabelin
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, Kissy Doll
2005 Tatiana Predenia and Felgmatov in Grand Pas de Deux
Stanislav Vlasov on Glasnost Tour
2010 A Elagina and A Ustimov in Snowflake Waltz
Performance History and the St. Petersburg Premiere
In Europe and the U.S.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
Moscow Ballet’s version of the Nutcracker ballet, known as the “Great Russian Nutcracker,” includes other unique elements in the telling of the traditional holiday tale. In the Moscow Ballet version, the setting is in Moscow and the city’s famous onion-domed skyline is featured as a backdrop. Traditional Russian folk characters Ded Moroz (Father Christmas) and Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) escort Masha and the Nutcracker Prince to their dream world in Act II.
Finally the “Dove of Peace,” exclusive to Moscow Ballet’s version, welcomes the couple to the “Land of Peace and Harmony” traditionally called “The Land of Sweets.” The “Dove of Peace” was inspired by performances of Stanislov Vlasov, former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and choreographer/ballet master of Moscow Ballet’s inaugural 1993 Great Russian Nutcracker , and partner Lilia Sabitova, People’s Artist of Russia.
“[Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker]…lively and resourceful with an unusual array of bright, painted backdrops adding to the Christmas cheer…disarmingly poetic…faultless mastery of the steps…bravura expertise.” – Los Angeles Times 2013 Lewis Segal