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Learn About The Nutcracker Ballet for Kids

Updated on September 2, 2015

The Nutcracker is a very famous ballet that's often performed around Christmastime. The story is based on a book called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by E.T.A Hoffman. The music was written by a famous Russian composer named Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The music from the Nutcracker is very popular. You may be familiar with some of it already. Waltz of the Flowers and The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy are two very famous pieces of music from the ballet.

It's likely that at least one Nutcracker performance is put on wherever you live. It's a fun ballet for kids to watch. Many theaters have children performing. The ballet is filled with color and beautiful costumes. The ballet is about 3 hours long but there will be an intermission in the middle.

Russian stamps with images of The Nutcracker Ballet
Russian stamps with images of The Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker Story

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet. In the first act, a girl named Clara receives a nutcracker as a gift. That night she dreams that the mouse king and an army of mice invade her living room. The nutcracker and toy soldiers come to life to battle the mice.

In the second act, Clara visits the Land of Sweets and meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. Clara watches various dances including the Spanish Dance, the Russian Dance and the Waltz of Flowers. The ballet ends with a Pas De Deux. Pas De Deux means “step of two.” In this dance, a ballerina partners with a male dancer. In the Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy dances with a character called the cavalier.

The Nutcracker is one of the most famous ballets in the world now. But it wasn’t popular when it was first performed in Russia. It was performed for the first time in the United States about 50 years later. George Balanchine, of the New York City Ballet, created the version that is most popular today.


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