1. In Germany, there is a folklore tradition based on the idea that nutcrackers protect your family and bring your home good luck. For this reason, nutcrackers were often given to children at Christmastime.
2. The story for The Nutcracker ballet is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffman entitled “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”. The original story is much darker than the ballet, featuring a bloody battle between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King’s army, and the backstory of how the prince was changed into a nutcracker.
3. When The Nutcracker was first performed in Russia in 1892, critics were not impressed and the future did not look bright for this ballet. In fact, it wasn’t until George Balanchine’s production of the ballet in 1954 that the show began to gain popularity. By the late 1960s, The Nutcracker established itself as the essential ballet of the holiday season. Balanchine’s choreography is the version most often performed to this day.
4.The section of the ballet in which dancers perform for Clara and the Prince is called the divertissement. It includes the Spanish dance (chocolate), the Arabian dance (coffee), the Chinese dance (tea), the Russian dance (trepak), shepards and lambs, candy canes, Mother Ginger with her polichinelles and the beautiful “Waltz of the Flowers”
5. In 1892, Tchaikovsky finished composing the music for the Nutcracker. Afterwards, he wrote that he felt the Nutcracker’s music was “infinitely poorer” than Sleeping Beauty’s, which he finished two years prior.Despite Tchaikovsky’s feelings towards the Nutcracker’s music, he released The Nutcracker Suite prior to the ballet’s premier. The suite was a success.
6. The special instrument played for the Sugarplum Fairy’s solo is a celesta. Tschaikovsky used the newly-invented celesta to make the music for the Sugarplum Fairy sound like the “sprays of a fountain” as the choreographer Marius Petipa requested
7. In the 1993 film adaptation, a Balanchine ballet school pupil and famous actor Macaulay Culkin played the role of the Prince.
8. Walt Disney used some of the Nutcracker music in his 1940 animated movie Fantasia. People liked the movie and started to take an interest in the ballet
9. A little girl. Clara Silberhaus is the most important character in the ballet.
10. Clara is given the gift of the Nutcracker by her Uncle Drosselmeyer a toy maker and seen as a man of magic as he creates Clara’s journey throughout the ballet