The Nutcracker Suite: A Memorable Christmas Ballet

One of the landmarks in ballet history was Pyotor Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s creation of the Nutcracker Suite. With Swan Lake (1876) and The Sleeping Beauty(1879) behind him, he was commissioned by the director of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Theater to write a new ballet to a book by Marius Petipa, who completely outlined the moods and dances the musical score was to fit. The first night was not as triumphant as that ofSleeping Beauty’s. It was confusing for the Russian audiences of that day to see a performance dominated by children in the first act, and they did not exactly favor the German story on which it was based either. Today, however, there is hardly a major world dance company or regional ballet that does not mount an elaborate Christmastime production of The Nutcracker.