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The Nutcracker

Every year for as long as I can remember, I make a trip near Christmas time to see a production of The Nutcracker, the ballet by Peter Ilich Tschaikovsky. These days, I actually usually make three trips to the show - once to see all the girls and boys from my church, once to go to the production I've always gone to, and once to another company's performance for good measure.

Today I saw the production that all my church members are in. Because of my schedule this weekend, I had to go see one of the "school performances" during the day, where children from the area come to see the ballet as a field trip. I've done this before, and it is risky - hundreds of elementary school kids on a field trip aren't always in the mood to see a ballet.

But, happily, I had a great experience. The kids were so well-behaved, and it was fascinating to sort-of watch the ballet through their eyes. I was thinking of the part in Finding Neverland where J. M. Barrie invites the children from the orphanage to his opening of Peter Pan. Stodgy audience members can't help but delight in the play when they see the delighted reactions of the children watching the characters flying around on stage.

When I was little, I always loved the beginning of The Nutcracker, with the party scene, the mice and the soldiers. And I thought the pas de deux between the prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy was terribly terribly long and boring. But as I grew up, I started to think the party scene moved too slowly, and I couldn't wait for the pas de deux and the 'grown-up' dancing.

Today, sitting next to a class of first-graders, I got to experience the show as a young person again. The kids were at first not impressed by the scenery, but eventually oohed and aahed when the snow fell from the sky, and when Mother Ginger came out with her bon-bons, and when the dancing dolls appeared like magic from the box, and when the Mouse King was defeated by the prince. They were literally sitting on the edge of their seats. It was a real joy - seeing it again as I did long ago...


Anonymous said…
loved this.

I'm taking my daughter to see the Nutcracker next Saturday - in a town (city?) called Tampere two hours away - it's a visiting ballet company from Riga, Latvia and they are supposed to be very good.

I love the music and emmerse myself in it.

I'd go more often if there was a real ballet company in my own city. But the Finnish Opera and Ballet company is based in Helsinki (2 hrs awayand they NEVER do matinees, which makes it too hard to get back home esp as the road between the two cities isn't a motorway (freeway) and it's really badly lit - with long stretches of forest and more forest inbetween the small villages.

I don't mind driving it in the summer - but winter time it's too much and ofcourse it's too late to get the train back home after the evening performance. Grrr

glad you enjoyed the schools performance :)
Anonymous said…

I have been thinking about this post since you put it up a couple of days ago. You know, the first thought that came to my head had nothing to do with the Nutcracker.

It had to do with the Lord’s example in Matthew Chapter 18 that we should approach God with the heart of a child. Many times we get hung up on the "milk vs. meat" arguments of St. Paul, which are spiritually valid, but we tend to become "ivory tower Christians" looking for great and complex Biblical truths and we often forget about the Lord's example. I think the matter in which you revisited the Nutcracker from a child's perspective is the exact way we need to often revisit our faith in God and in Christ.
John said…
I haven't seen the Nutcracker in years, but I'd love to make it a part of my seasonal traditions. We almost went last year but decided to save on money.

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