This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening at a local university that presented their 30th annual production of “The Nutcracker Ballet”. This grand holiday tradition dazzled and delighted the audience with spectacular dancing, beautiful costumes, glorious scenery, and pyrotechnical magic as the brilliance of Tchaikovsky’s music was brought to life by the university’s symphony orchestra and the local city’s children’s choir. I had not attended a “Nutcracker” production since my boys (now ages 28 and 35) were young children. It was a very special performance for me, for it brought back warm and wonderful memories of a magical family event during my children’s early home schooling years.
If taking your children to see “The Nutcracker Ballet” is a part of your holiday plans, then I highly recommend filling your home with the amazing orchestral soundtrack before you attend the performance. Since the performance is “told” in the form of music and dance, I also recommend reading aloud the story so your children can better understand the storyline during the performance. There are many books written about the Nutcracker. One of my favorites is the original tale of Nutcracker, written by E.T.A. Hoffmann (in 1816), translated by Ralph Manheim and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. The New York Times Books Review has rated it as “one of the ten best illustrated children’s books of the year.”
If you are also interested in sharing a little history of this special ballet, then I recommend the book, The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Cathy Gendron.
Who would ever have thought that, during WW II, three small-town Utah boys interested in ballet would have started this annual holiday tradition? “The Nutcracker Ballet” has retained its freshness because it appeals to the sense of wonder we all share. It is a memorable and magical event that every family should enjoy together at least once.