Christmas-time Traditions :: The Nutcracker

photo :: paul kolnik

Yay!  We made it through the longest, darkest night of the year {thanks Winter Solstice} and Christmas is only three days away!  Everyone has their Christmas traditions and like so many other little girls out there, mine was always The Nutcracker.  As I mentioned in a previous post, it is always hard for me to feel Christmas-y in Southern California weather with no cold winter breeze to turn my nose red or snow crunching underfoot, so I went searching for something to get me more in the spirit and ran across George Ballanchine’s The Nutcracker movie on YouTube performed by the New York City Ballet.

I already mentioned another Christmas-time tradition from my childhood {going to see the Christmas/Holiday windows along Fifth Avenue} in another post, but the Nutcracker was always a biggie.  I would count the days until I got to go down to Lincoln Center in NYC all dressed up in a party dress, white tights and mary janes to see Marie and her prince enjoy the performances of the denizens of the kingdom of sweets.  It was even more exciting to go see the performances as many of my classmates attended the School of American Ballet and had roles as party guests, Mother Ginger’s Polichinelles,or Candy Canes.  

image via

Before and after I went to see the ballet, my Nutcracker record would play nonstop on the turntable and I would turn in performance after performance for my parents and anyone else who happened by our apartment of my own choreographed version of the ballet.  

I always longed for Marie’s beautiful rabbit-fur trimmed party dress and black ballet slippers and empathized with her for having such a pain in the butt little brother like Fritz.  Actually, my very own pain-in-the-butt-little-brother came with my Mom and me to see one performance and was so terrified by the Mouse King that he, near tears, crawled into my mother’s lap.

photo :: paul kolnik

I would sit at the edge of my seat and wait for the part where the Christmas tree would grow out of the stage and couldn’t wait to see the Dance of the Snowflakes. I don’t think I ever settled on one favorite dance {it always changed from year-to-year}, but the pas de deux with the Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier was always near the top.

photo :: paul kolnik

After each performance I’m sure I talked my Mom’s ear off about every little detail of the ballet and, once home, quickly fell asleep with dreams of the Sugarplum Fairy dancing in my head.