"Evans replaced Tchaikovsky with Public Enemy's 'Fight the Power'..."

Sounds like a clear case of cultural appropriation to me.
I'm not sure what I was supposed to get out of that. We shouldn't go because you have an over-bearing mother? Russia's nation-building four years prior to the premier made your friend have an eating disorder? Don't eat sandwiches near smelly feet?
As a cellist who's played the Nutcracker a few times too many, I hate hate hate hate hate it more than everyone reading this post. I can't even stand hearing excerpts in commercials. In fact, I have to turn the sound off during commercial breaks, because if I hear the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy one more time I'm going to start stomping on random people's toes.
Please tell us there is video of the Fight The Power interlude!
Great God, you need to get laid.
ahhh yes lets take a great Seattle tradition and shit on it
So the hatred of the material drove your mom to take it out on the audience? How about don't fucking perform it instead of embarrassing and annoying an audience, you fucking child.
Lame. The Nutcracker is a bore, but people love it and it helps keep the lights on at PNB. Boycott it and you'll be harming one of the strongest ballet companies in the United States, which for the rest of the season puts on a fairly diverse dance program.
Lord love a duck.
"Waaah, my mommy tortured me by making me take ballet lessons!"

Sydney, I am not the world's biggest "Nutcracker" fan myself (although it would be nice if David Schmader would review it under the influence), but just because you had a lousy childhood doesn't do a very good job of persuading the rest of the world to boycott it. Dredging up the hoary old anecdote of teachers hitting their students with canes? That should be relegated to the dustbin of old ballet stereotypes.

And as proud of your mom as you are for her incorporating a hip-hop number into her own "Nutcracker," a simple Google search will show you that there are approximately 70-bajillion different versions of "Nutcracker" incorporating jazz, tap, satire, burlesque, magic, hip-hop, and ad nauseum.
Lord, save us from comments sections.
Seriously, you guys are basically the letters to the editor section of dead tree media.
Former dancer here: Nutcracker is DREADFUL. There is so much good dance out there and THIS is what people see, year after year after year. I HATE it. It's like watching a Christmas episode of I Love Lucy every December, but waaay more expensive and waaay less entertaining....and seriously, there HAS been good TV since Lucy; why don't they try some. The first act is just ok, but the endless candy dances? Puh-leeze. The only justification for it is that it does fund the 'real' dancing that happens the rest of the year in our regional companies, but it's basically like egg nog: nobody actually likes the stuff and it's not very good for you.
@14 Thank you. Maybe I didn't clarify this enough in the post, but I hope that people see MORE ballet--the good stuff--instead of The Nutcracker. It shouldn't be the only thing keeping companies afloat.
@15, any time. I have to say I totally related to your tale of dropping out of dance. I LOVED dance, but my God! the punishment to the body (anorexia, injury) and the spirit (never being thin enough, having your education truncated/limited) was just too high a price to pay. Have you seen photos of Suzanne Farrell? Osteoporosis and a hip replacement by her 40s? No thank you!
Ballet sucks. Or, rather, the culture of ballet sucks. Like gymnastics. There is something super creepy about adults wanting to see starving children dance (or contort themselves on balance beams) for their amusement. It's like these people go home and masturbate to footage of Auschwitz.

The world of dance is incredible and amazing. It is uniquely expressive, but fuck the dunderheads who demand to see one tiny aspect, and keep paying over and over to do so. It's called cultural sterility.
Ballet sucks when you see it with ballet performers. They're hyper competitive and therefore hyper critical of everything and will absolutely ruin your chances at enjoyment.
Thanks for the piece and the historic background. I would also add that the ballet was commissioned by the theatre director of czarist Russia, and was meant to be a holiday hit from its inception.
No wonder it became so popular in the US as the Christmas commercialization advanced (and as far as I’m concerned, this is the real war on that holiday.)

I don’t know if that helps, but as a parent who was forced to see it year after year I’m glad we all moved on.
The one child who was into dancing did so in an accommodating community-based establishment, free of cruel Russian-born instructors who sadly don’t know any better.
I felt junior/ette got a lot out of those years, including the confidence to go up on a stage in an early age.
When junior/ette decided to quit they expressed interest in playing a musical instrument. Once again Russian immigrants proved to be too strict, while a locally grown aging musical hippie turned out to be a great choice.
No Nirvana lyrics carved on bedroom walls.

Wrong photo, yeah? Pic looks like it's the Maurice Sendak version that finally got retired. The thing I hate, hate, hate is the TV commercial, specifically the voice-over artist. The way he recites the title, "The Nutcracker," dripping with condescension. It's the aural equivalent of a punchable face.
Every one I know who works Nutcracker views it as the six weeks of purgatory that allows the rest of the season to exist. They kinda hate it.
But my Dad, loved, loved, loved playing the drunk uncle in the old PNB production for many years, and it's hard to fault all the baby bun heads that come to their love of Ballet through that 1st magical production in their lives. They kinda adore it.
But yeah, it shouldn't be, (or other safe tutu story ballets either) be all there is in the public imagination when it comes to dance.
@22 Drunk uncle and flamboyant, gender-bending Mother Ginger are the best parts of the show.
As someone who's been working in theatre since I was a wee little one, my opinion is that The Nutcracker is a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. If companies stop staging productions of Nut during the holidays, and substitute it with something else (or change it too drastically), people probably won't go in the numbers necessary to keep the lights on. Sad to say it, but theatre (ballet and opera especially in America) don't pull water like they used to in this day and age. Blame streaming services, economic downturn, hipsters, or any combination thereof, but the fact remains: the only things that pull in broad, general interest are the titanic standbys like Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Everything else really only draws the hardcore season ticket holders, and as anyone who runs a theatre's budget can tell you: season ticket holders alone don't keep the lights on.
Indeed I do recall wondering about @ 22 Lissa’s dad being suspiciously-but-in-a-good-way happy.
Unfortunately I don’t recall Sydney’s @ 23 gender-bending Mother Ginger. Either missed it back in the days or maybe it’s a new addition.
Hopefully Mother G’s portrayal is more favorable to the gender-bending camp and allies than the seemingly-cool-in-order-to-increase-ticket- sales grotesque drag queen depiction of the witch in a recent Seattle opera production of Hansel and Gretel.
My parents and my uncle were among a few people that started the community theatre in my hometown. They did productions in the moldering old hotel's ballroom, at the high schools, wherever they could mount a show. Finally, they got their act together enough (along with an endowment) to get their own theatre - which still exists to this day. They did two musicals and two "straight" plays a year, along with a summer musical that was mostly high school kids.

I grew up knowing that the musicals were the bread and butter. That for every "Music Man" or "Sound of Music", they could do "Equus" or "Boys In The Band" or "Lesson From Aloes" - stuff that was thought provoking and fascinating in a dumbass town. (And it was no big deal for me, because I love musicals).

So when I set off to the University of Iowa, as a fresh-faced Theatre major, I couldn't understand the contempt people (mostly my fellow undergraduates) had for musicals. Yes, they were cheesy and schmaltzy (see my above-referenced love for musicals) but they also kept the subscriptions going - they were the things that subsidized odious, eye-rolling productions like an original interpretation of "A Tale of Two Cities" done entirely on subway grating.

So if you love "The Nutcracker", go see the "The Nutcracker". If you have friends or relatives who've never seen a professional ballet, and you hate "The Nutcracker" take them to see "The Nutcracker". Whatever you do, don't talk down "The Nutcracker" (and other pedestrian stuff). That's what pays the royalties and keeps the lights on - and sometimes it's the entry drug.
First of all I want to say that I would never force a son or daughter into dance unless there was real interest in it, and then I wouldn't have to force anything. I don't know if you begrudge your ballet training, but you shouldn't . It trains the muscles to move with a certain and unmistakable grace (if you are in it long enough) for a lifetime. I can spot an adult former ballet student from 100 yards away.
Over performed? Sure, but that's true for every single piece of popular ballet, opera, and symphony. But that wouldn't make a good story, because everyone already knows that. Ditto for the cruelty of ballet culture.

So let's get on our high horses (fully outfitted with fashionable context-blinders) and attack the work as a symbol of anti-semitism and other vaguely nasty things, despite Tchaikovsky being a brilliant gay man who successfully navigated the perilous waters between Eurocentric "elite" composition and anti-intellectual, nationalistic nativist styles being pushed by The Five. But forget all that, who needs the nuanced solutions of someone who can recognize the values in both sides of an argument, that won't fit with our narrative at all; Alexander III was in power then, which means the work must be anti-semitic, just like "Fight the Power" will forever be tied to NAFTA.

I see Sydney changed her headline without explanation or apology. Lame.
Serious bit.

The analogy to the racism and Empire is noted.

Not so serious bit.

I remember when I worked as a stage hand and the ballet came to the theater that I worked at.

The crew were given one very clear rule. Don't hit on/flirt with/make out with/acknowledge in any way the dancers.

I thought this would be extremely easy as the dancers were very pretty and I, like most stage hands, was very scruffy and for the most part I was right. During the set up I left the dancers be and they left me be. At one point during the show I was watching the performance, arms folded and felt something behind me. Two of the dancers were straining to see what was going on. Being a full foot taller than them I offered to switch places with them so they could see. After that they seemed to become keenly interested in me. I didn't flirt back too too much because the rules were the rules and I didn't want to get myself or anyone else in trouble. Reputation and a paycheck are both very important.
You seem to have a lot of issues! You say people should see other ballets. Really? Are you suggesting Swan Lake has a more sensible story? Don Q? Hmm. It would certainly seem the issues you have with ballet would carry over to ballet in general. As a former professional dancer, I worked with some crazy teachers and directors, I also worked with inspiring, kind and super intelligent people. Lastly, it was a challenge to bring a fresh enthusiasm to Nutcracker year after year. That's part of show business. People do 8 shows a week of Cats or another show for years. Believe me, doing another Nutcracker is a lot better than most of the jobs people have no choice but to take to put food on the table!
The best thing about the Nutcracker is that ticket sales pay for lots of great dance performances.
Sydney, I wrote this exact same review, except it was about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Have you heard about Christopher Wheeldon's new nutcracker? Sounds interesting.
The Nutcracker isn't just popular because it's a Christmas show, it's also a family-oriented show that explicitly appeals to little children with its simplistic story, candy colored costumes and crowd-pleasing score. Despite having boring politics, engaging in racial stereotypes, and otherwise being overdone, it still is one of the few ready-for-kids ballets.

There are a lot of bad kids movies that make oodles of money simply because they're the ONLY movie made for families in that month. Dance is quite abstract for many kids without the brightly colored distractions to keep their attention.

Somebody needs to do make a new ballet for kids and replay that year after year in the hopes it will catch on in the same way 75 years from now (note that The Nutcracker had a 65 year incubation period before it became popular in the 1960s).
Until "how the grinch stole christmas" is done as ballet, the market says there's no competition. I bet people would welcome some alternatives!
This place is like Moe's Tavern.

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