by Corianna Lee, Director, Coolidge Performing Arts Center
During the holidays, the music from “The Nutcracker” ballet is everywhere, even the community of Casa Grande had an annual production of it involving performers from throughout Pinal County for 24 years.
Ballet companies all over the world have a long-standing tradition of performing this historic ballet every holiday season. Even the iconic Barbie franchise released an animated ﬁlm version of “Barbie and the Nutcracker.”
Have you wondered about the history behind the ballet?
According to Treva Bedighaus from thought.com, the popular ballet has endured over 100 years.
The Nutcracker Ballet was ﬁrst presented at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Dec. 17, 1892.
Peter Tchaikovsky, the famous Russian composer, was commissioned by mastermind choreographer Marius Petipa to compose the ballet and score based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”
Tchaikovsky and Petipa previously worked together on another classical ballet, “Sleeping Beauty.” The ﬁrst production of “The Nutcracker” was a failure.
Neither the critics nor the audience liked it. Even though Czar Alexander III was delighted with the ballet, it was not an instant success. However, the ballet gained popularity with future productions, especially in the U.S.
The ﬁrst performance of “The Nutcracker” in the U.S. was by the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1944. The production was directed by William Christensen.
By changing a few characters, choreographer George Balanchine brought new life to the ballet. His 1954 production for the New York City Ballet established it as a holiday tradition. Many of the versions performed today are based on the version created by Balanchine.
The enduring history of “The Nutcracker” has not only prevailed within our local community but around the world.