Rendition of The Nutcracker sweeps the Strathmore stage

Sugar Plum Fairy, The Land of Snow, Waltz of the Flowers and The Evil Mouse King: some of the essential parts of the dreamlike Christmas story of “The Nutcracker” and a staple Christmas family tradition. The timeless ballet was brought to Strathmore Music Hall stage on Nov. 19 by Talmi Entertainment in partnership with CityDance School & Conservatory.

Set in 1820s Germany, the magical story starts where a family attends a party on Christmas Eve. A girl named Clara is gifted a Nutcracker doll from Drosselmeyer, her uncle. As the party comes to an end and the kids go off to bed, Clara has trouble falling asleep and decides to go downstairs looking for her Nutcracker.

After the clock strikes midnight, everything grows out of proportion–literally. Giant rats led by the Evil Mouse King battle against the Nutcracker, defeating him. Seemingly lifeless, he slowly wakes up and turns into a prince that guides Clara through the Land of Snow and the magical Land of the Sweets. Finally, she is transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy, her dream ballerina.

This ballet has become a popular Christmas tradition all over the world where each ballet company adds their own spin to the storyline. For example, in this version of the story, the main character, Clara, is named “Masha” and the infamous “Mother Ginger” scene is replaced with the “Celebration” scene which combines dancers from each international dance, known as variations. Such variations like the “Spanish Variation” dancers are included in this scene.

“The Nutcracker” represents a universal holiday tradition that has adapted to time, place and style. During the holidays, families all over the world gather to celebrate Christmas in different ways. However, despite differences in tradition across the world, “The Nutcracker” has been a tradition that has consistently broken cultural barriers and united people over magic, artistry and storytelling.

Sophomore Ella Berton performed in the Strathmore show this past Saturday in the “Celebration” scene. Despite most of the cast consisting of younger dancers, the ballet also includes a section for older dancers training in youth pre-professional programs. Berton has represented CityDance at multiple national ballet competitions and has now made her mark on a local stage in “The Nutcracker.”

It was a nice experience because when I was younger, I always used to watch it with my parents, and now I was finally able to dance it alongside principal [permanent company] dancers.

— Berton

The fun holiday tradition brings everyone together to celebrate the warm season of giving through the intense yet beautiful story of Christmas joy. The music composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky incorporates suspense, grandeur and fantasy in the composition, continuing to captivate audiences even centuries after his passing.

“It brings history to families and gets me in the Christmas spirit. In third grade music class we were able to watch “The Nutcracker” and learned a lot about Tchaikovsky,” senior Aklilu Blumberg-Woll said.

“The Nutcracker” is one of the most popular ballets performed in the U.S today, bringing magic to every stage and telling a story that the whole family can follow. Children are swept away by the captivating ballerinas twirling about the stage and those of older ages are moved by the intense nostalgia and storyline.

“What is most mesmerizing to me about the Nutcracker to me is the combination of beautiful and detailed costumes, the warming music, and the incredible choreography all tied together to create one moving show, bringing together family and friends for the holidays,” freshman Sophia Stanton-Brand said.