It was a magical night filled with massive mice with swords, skating bears, a flock of lambs, Fairies and Men in tights… yes, you guessed it (or just left wondering what on earth…), last Saturday a new tradition began in my family with The Nutcracker Ballet.
The original Nutcracker Ballet is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It was given its première at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on Sunday, 18 December 1892, on a double-bill with Tchaikovsky’s opera, Iolanta.
Although the original production was not a success, the twenty-minute suite that Tchaikovsky extracted from the ballet was. However, the complete Nutcracker has enjoyed enormous popularity since the late 1960s and is now performed by countless ballet companies, primarily during the Christmas season, especially in the U.S. Tchaikovsky’s score has become one of his most famous compositions, in particular the pieces featured in the suite
Taking place at The National Ballet of Canada in The Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts, a childhood favourite of mine came to life and was introduced for the first time to my four year old daughter who fell so in love with it as well.
She loved it so much in fact, that as soon as she came home she would not stop prancing around to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
She has also began asking to be enrolled in ballet classes.
It is a refreshingly traditional version of the story, replete with the details of childhood dreams and the appeal of fantasy, a ballet gloriously designed and costumed and brimming with affection for and insight into the passage from childhood to maturity that all children make.
Re-setting the story to Imperial Russia, with its simple folk customs and its overwhelming opulence, choreographer James Kudelka allows full rein to both his instincts for everyday beauty and dazzling spectacle, for natural wonder and dreamlike astonishment, all conveyed in an array of breathtaking choreography. The entire production is a glittering, enchanting gem of a ballet, a work that is at once deeply familiar and forever new.
We had amazing Orchestra Seats in the very front row, seated at numbers 28, 29 & 30 which happens to be an amazing coincidence as they were the only seats left that night and all three numbers are the days we were born (my husband, daughter and I).
It was all I imagined it would be — beautiful, enchanting, enigmatic even (but in a good way) filled with tons of surprises; I was almost put to tears at times. The orchestra was absolutely perfect and truly brought the ballet to life with the beautiful sounds of Tchaikovsky that I love so much.
My favourite parts of the ballet definitely have to be Snow Queen and her Icicles, Snow Maidens, The Sugar Plum Fairy, Spanish Chocolate and Flowers and Branches.
It was a great night watching The Nutcracker with our daughter and plan to begin this tradition each year during the Holiday Season.
Ava came home with her very own little nutcracker that she can cherish forever and attach to the memory of her very first time she saw The Nutcracker with her mommy and daddy.
We also got an adorable wooden trapeze toy for our son who we hope to bring with us when he gets older as well.
I highly recommend you watch it, even once. I long to go again simply to listen to the orchestra play. I cannot get over how amazing they were.
For more information, you can visit The National Ballet of Canada here: national.ballet.ca/thenutcracker.