“The Nutcracker” turns an old classic into a new tradition


Photo courtesy of Sarah Takash.

Emily Toro

“The Nutcracker” ballet is performed around the holiday by numerous dancers worldwide. Derived from the classical period of ballet, “The Nutcracker” is based off of the tale The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E.T.A Hoffmann.

According to The New York City Ballet, the first performance was shown in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ballet master of the Russian Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa, asked Pyotr Tchaikovsky to compose the music for the ballet and asked his assistant, Lev Ivanov, to choreograph it.

According to an analyzation done for Tchaikovsky’s song, “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,” it is used in many different forms of media including children’s movies. In the United States, “The Nutcracker” was presented by the San Francisco Opera Ballet in 1944 and directed by William Christensen. According to the New York Times, George Balanchine added choreography from”The Nutcracker” that he danced in as a child to make it more comforting for people.

Balanchine produced a show for the New York City Ballet in 1954 and established the show as a holiday tradition. According to the about.com, “Numerous ballet companies around the world stage the famous ballet every year during the month of December. Both children and adults look forward to attending a magical performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ each holiday season.”

Not only does this ballet bring holiday spirit to audiences from professional companies such as The American Ballet Theater and The New York City Ballet, but pre-professional companies and dance schools as well. Freshman Riley Rademacher of Wall shared her experiences from dancing in “The Nutcracker” at The Spring Lake School of Dance. Rademacher says that she participates in this show every year and enjoys performing a part in a story as opposed to simply dancing.

“I have participated in this show ever since I was three, Rademacher said. “‘. . . the roles for everyone change every year; it is great to be challenged every year with both harder dances and roles to play.”

Senior Catherine Escueta of Eatontown is performing in the Company of Dance Arts’ production of  “The Nutcracker” as the role of the Sugarplum Fairy. This will be her tenth year participating in the show.

“It is really fulfilling to be a part of something that is such a tradition in so many people’s holiday plans,” Escueta said. “‘The Nutcracker’ is special to me partially because I’ve been doing it for so long and also because I really love performing.”


Through Balanchine, “The Nutcracker” has touched the hearts of many people and is still affecting the lives of many dancers today by allowing them to be a part of a popular holiday tradition.