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Advent Day 24: Nutcracker


December 24 – The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker ballet is a favorite Christmas ballet that draws audiences from all parts of society, especially in America and Canada where it is traditionally performed every year by almost every ballet company.  The ballet’s first complete United States performance was on December 24,1944 by the San Francisco Ballet and staged by its artistic director William Christensen. Beginning in the 1960′s, the tradition of performing the complete ballet at Christmas eventually spread to the rest of the United States and into Canada. In an interview Christensen remembers his first introduction to the ballet:
         “Ballet Russe passed through San Francisco and one evening I got Alexandra Danilova and Balanchine, then ballerina of Ballet Russe and ballet master respectively, to come to my apartment,”recalls Christensen. “We had something to eat and drink, and then we got down to work with the conductor. Balanchine described the Maryinsky production: how the big doors opened on the tree, the mime of Drosselmeyer, all the details. At one point, Danilova started dancing Clara’s variation, in her stocking feet and street dress. Balanchine put an end to that with his admonishment, ‘No, no, Alexandra, don’t try to show him the actual steps. Let him create his own choreography.’ We worked all night, and that is how I got my first Nutcracker… I never intended it to become an annual production, but there you are, it is a tradition now!”

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