In Europe and North America, there’s no question about which is the most popular ballet ever created: Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker is miles ahead of the pack. It’s become a staple Christmas family entertainment, even for people who are not habitual ballet-goers.
The Nutcracker’s magic is very deep. The fairy-tale story, which comes from E. T. A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, gives boundless scope to children’s imagination, with the biggest flights of fancy coming in Act II in the series of dances performed for Marie and the Prince, each with its own exotic flavour. It all seems to infect stage designers and choreographers: over the years, they have produced a miraculous variety of delightful settings. But the biggest miracle of all is Tchaikovsky’s music, which creates the atmosphere of fairy tale and breathes life into the characters - even the wooden ones.
Children of all ages love The Nutcracker: for many dancers, it was a performance of the Nutcracker that first brought them into ballet. You can read a selection of quotes below from children of all ages who have seen it and never forgotten their experience. By the way, the heroine is either called Clara or Marie: both names are used!
We're very grateful to the Royal Academy of Dance and Central Scotland Ballet School and those pupils who answered our questions, and to Scottish Ballet for the photo.
Whether you're taking a teenager...
Aisling O'Keefe, 13
Clara Farque, 12
I think the Nutcracker is magical. I like when the christmas tree grows huge, and when the Nutcracker and the mice fight and the mice jump over their tails like skipping ropes. I think the sugar Plum fairy is pretty and I like it when she dances with the prince in the land of sweets.
What do you love best in the Nutcracker?
...when [Clara] received a present from her aunty wich is a toy "Nutcracker". Sofia D
...when they pick up all the presents. Sofia L
Myla, age 7