Cicely Tyson Community School
The Story of The Nutcracker
and the Mouse King was written in 1816 by E. T. A. Hoffmann.
In 1892, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and
choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned the story
(Alexandre Dumas père's adapted version) into the ballet The
Nutcracker, which became one of Tchaikovsky's most famous
compositions, and one of the most popular ballets in the world.
On December 11 and 12, 2010, the Cicely Tyson Dancers put on a
well staged version which we will try to retell in photos. Click
on links to hear the music on YouTube videos.
begins on Christmas Eve at the house of Herr and Frau
Silberhaus and their children. Family and friends have gathered
in the parlor. Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara and Fritz's godfather and
also a talented toymaker has brought gifts for the children. One
of the gifts is a wooden nutcracker, which he gives to Clara.
Herr Drosselmeyer has also brought with him some
lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all the guests. One of
the dolls is a toy soldier.
Another doll is the Colombine. After the dolls
dance, they are put away and it is time for the guests to
After the dance,
the guests depart, and the children are sent off to bed.
We are missing
some photographs of this section of the ballet.
During the night,
after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor
to check on her beloved nutcracker. As she reaches the little
bed, the clock strikes midnight. Suddenly, mice begin to fill the
room and the Christmas tree begins to grow to
dizzying heights. The
Nutcracker also grows to life-size. Clara finds herself in the
midst of a battle between an army of gingerbread soldiers and the
mice, led by the Mouse King. The mice begin to eat the
gingerbread soldiers. The Nutcracker appears to lead the
gingerbread soldiers, who are joined by tin soldiers. As the
Mouse King advances on the still-wounded Nutcracker, Clara throws
her slipper at him, distracting him long enough for the
Nutcracker to stab him.
The mice retreat
and the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince. He
leads Clara through the moonlit night to a pine forest in which
the snowflakes dance around them.
Act 2 takes place in The Land of Sweets
(Confiturembourg) ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Prince's
palace while awaiting his return.
She is told that
her Prince is returning to the kingdom in a magic sleigh and
the whole court dances happily in anticipation of his arrival.
introduces his guest and he tells the Sugar Plum Fairy how Clara
saved him from the Mouse King and how he had been transformed
back into a Prince.
In honor of
Clara's heroic act, the Sugar Plum Fairy organizes a celebration
of dances by sweets from around the world. The photo above shows
the dance representing Coffee from Arabia.
This is a scene
from the Russian Dance. In the original ballet, Candy Canes
from Russia performed an intricate hoop dance.
In this scene, a
Danish Marzipan Shepherdess dances with her sheep in the Dance of the Reeds.
A favorite moment
with audiences everywhere is when Mother Gigogne (Ginger) has her Polichinelle (Clown)
children emerge from under her enormous skirt to tumble and
To conclude the
evening of dances, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform
a Pas de Deux. Tchaikovsky is said to have argued with a friend
who wagered that the composer could not write a melody based on
the notes of the scale in an octave in sequence. Tchaikovsky
asked if it mattered whether the notes were in ascending or
descending order, and was assured it did not. This resulted in
the Adagio from
the Grand Pas de Deux. Whatever the reason, this is one of the most
emotionally moving of the dances and never fails to bring
ended with curtain calls and much applause for the entire
cast who performed The Nutcracker.