A beloved tale for all ages, The Nutcracker has been an annual Holiday classic. Many versions have been created, all focusing on a young girl, her Nutcracker doll, and the magnificent journey she takes to the Kingdom of the Sweets.
In October 1995, Gelsey Kirkland taught Master Classes at Dance Conservatory. The most celebrated American dancer of the 20th century, she had danced the role of Clara in the Baryshnikov version (this is the PBS version shown annually).
Gelsey infused the role with so much passion and meaning, interpreting Clara as more than a little girl. Behind all the fluff that had accumulated through the years, lay a story of pristine quality … a love story … an awakening … good vs evil. An old-fashioned fairy tale.
Oddly, it is a closer version to the Russian original than the “traditional” Nutcrackers we are all familiar with.
In 1892 the ballet was premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, a collaboration of the composer Peter Ilych Tschaikovsky and the choreographer of the Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa. Petipa wrote the libretto loosely basing it on E.T.A. Hoffman’s story “The Nutcracker and the Rat King”. It was brought to the West in 1934. Today, it is one of the world’s most endearing ballets.
To children, it is a perennial fairy tale. To the young at heart, it is a love story that is ageless in its appeal