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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Nutcracker Suite

At the holidays, you’re bound to have heard about a performance of The Nutcracker Suite, or Nutcracker Ballet. If you’re not sure what it is, Wikipedia explains that it’s a fairy tale-ballet in two acts about a girl’s adventures with a Nutcracker.

In Act I, at a Christmas Eve party Clara's mysterious godfather produces a bag of gifts for all the children. Three life-size dolls each take a turn to dance, but Clara is left without a gift. It would seem that he is out of presents, but he gives her a toy Nutcracker, in the traditional shape of a soldier in full parade uniform. Clara is overjoyed, but her brother Fritz is jealous, and breaks the Nutcracker.

After the family go to bed, Clara creeps downstairs to have a look at her Nutcracker, but when the clock strikes midnight, mice appear and surround her. The Nutcracker comes to life and his band of soldiers rise to defend Clara, and the Mouse King leads his mice into battle. Clara helps the Nutcracker by throwing her shoe at the Mouse King, the Nutcracker seizes his opportunity and bests him. The mice retreat, and the Nutcracker is then transformed into a prince.

In Act II, Clara and the Prince travel to a world where dancing Snowflakes greet them and fairies and queens dance. They arrive at the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy where the people of the Land of Sweets perform several dances for Clara and the Prince. They can include a Spanish Chocolate Dance, a Chinese Tea Dance, an Arabian Coffee Dance, a Russian candy cane dance, Marzipan shepherds, and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. After the festivities, Clara wakes up under the Christmas tree with the Nutcracker toy in her arms and the curtain closes.

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