Welcome to the final day of Winter Faerytale Week here at White Rose of Avalon. For this post, I have decided to discuss the classic holiday fairytale The Nutcracker and in particular, the iconic ballet based upon it!
So most of us are familiar with the music of The Nutcracker, as it just sounds like the holiday season. The ballet is a seasonal tradition, at least since the 1950s with Balanchine putting his own choreography to the classic Tchaikovsky musical score. The ballet is famously based on the fairytale of the same name. Originally written in German by E.T.A. Hoffmann, it was written as a much darker tale. Alexandre Dumas wrote a version in French that is lighter in tone. The ballet is officially based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of Hoffmann’s original tale.
The story is one about a young girl named Clara who gets a Nutcracker as a Christmas gift. Over the course of the tale, the Nutcracker comes to life and battles the evil Mouse King with Clara walking into the battle when she wakes up and leaves her bedroom on Christmas Eve night to check on her new beloved Nutcracker. For the ballet, they cut out a long flashback from the Hoffmann story that told of the Prince being turned into the Nutcracker in order to simplify the tale for a two-act ballet. The Nutcracker first comes to life in a larger form and can speak, later being revealed to be a Prince after defeating the Mouse King. This is a classical fairytale trope that far predated the 1816 Hoffmann original. Princes being cursed into being animals, like in Snow White and Rose Red and the titular beast in Beauty and the Beast show a precedent for this aspect of the story. Of course, in this case, the Prince was cursed into being a Nutcracker instead of an animal.
The Nutcracker is with Clara on her adventure into the land of sweets. This is where the famous Sugar Plum Faery resides. In this land, the Nutcracker recounts how Clara saved him from the Mouse King, as he would not have been able to stab the Mouse King if Clara had not distracted him. In this way, the story is also one of the two leads working together to save one another, adding sweetness for the holiday season!
The ballet is entrancing to see with all of the magic that is so associated with the tale. It has a gorgeous battle, as even a battle can be beautiful when told in dance. It has a toy coming to life, only to find that he was always a Prince. Finally, it has a young girl getting to adventure to a magical land of sweets! What is not to love? I hope that you have enjoyed this short final Winter Faerytale Week post on the beauty of this classical wintery fairytale ballet. Are you a fan of The Nutcracker, the tales, the ballet, or both? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and thank you for joining me for Winter Faerytale Week here at White Rose of Avalon!
Note: I want to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday season, no matter what seasonal celebration you partake in! As today is the Solstice I especially want to wish everyone a Blessed Yuletide!
- The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann
- The Story of a Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas
- The Nutcracker Ballet