History of The Nutcracker Ballet
The ballet The Nutcracker is over 100 years old. It was first presented at the Mayinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on December 17, 1892. The famous Russian composer Peter (or Pyotr) Tchaikovsky was commissioned by the renowned choreographer Marius Petipa to compose a ballet score based on Alexandr e Dumas’s adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” The composer and choreographer had previously collaborated on Sleeping Beauty. When Petipa fell ill, his assistant Lev Ivonov finalized the choreography for the ballet.
The first production of The Nutcracker was a failure: neither critics nor the audience liked it. However, future productions proved more popular.
The San Francisco Ballet Company was the first company to perform The Nutcracker in the United States.
Their 1944 production was directed by William Christensen. The idea for the San Francisco version came from the memories of a teacher in the ballet company named George Ballenge who remembered a dance he performed in Russia as a child. However, it is master choreographer George Balanchine who is credited with bringing new life to The Nutcracker. He also had danced in The Nutcracker as a child in Russia. In 1954 he mounted a production of The Nutcracker for the New York City Ballet. It is this production that paved the way for the popularity of The Nutcracker and its status as a holiday tradition. In fact, many of the versions of The Nutcracker we see performed today are based on the version created by George Balanchine.
composer -a person who writes music
score -the written form of a musical composition