The Nutcracker: An Overview

Christmas season has come and gone along with all its traditions. One of the most beautiful and well-known is the ballet, The Nutcracker.

Now back from the COVID break, the Santa Barbara Ballet Company, alongside with The Valley Performing Arts Studio put on a reenactment of the famous performance. Because of their partnership, the show features both professional dancers and young dancers that auditioned a few months before and have children as young as four on stage. I was able to both watch the show as well as volunteer backstage throughout one of their performances.

The show itself starts with the prologue scene which is basically an introduction to the show. The prologue scene is fairly short and quickly transitions into the next scene which takes place in Clara’s home where they are having a Christmas party where Clara receives the Nutcracker as a Christmas gift from her godfather. Her brother, Fritz, gets jealous of this gift and breaks Clara’s nutcracker, Clara becomes devastated at the damage done to her gift. Seeing Clara’s sadness her godfather is able to fix the nutcracker for her and the party then continues on.

Once the party ends and everyone has left Clara goes to sleep only to have a nightmare about a battle between mice and toy soldiers alongside the nutcracker himself. When it seemed like they were fighting a losing battle Clara throws her shoe at the Mouse Queen in a panic and kills her. The scene then transitions into the snow scene where Clara and the nutcracker meet the Snow Queen and Snow King alongside the snowflakes ending Act 1 with their dance.

Act 2 opens with the dance of the angels and cherubs welcoming Clara and the Nutcracker to the Kingdom of Sweets where they meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier alongside many other characters who upon learning of their victory over the Mouse Queen put on performances for those two. It’s hard to explain specifically what happens throughout this act since it is mainly just dancing and doesn’t have as much of a story to it compared to other scenes. After all their performances it is time for Clara and the Nutcracker to return home where Clara then wakes up and the show comes to an end.

Along with watching the show, I was also able to volunteer backstage during one of the shows where I helped the younger dancers with their costumes and hair. It was not my first time being backstage during one of these performances but it was as hectic as ever especially with all the little kids running around in their costumes and in some cases wings. It was a fun experience though.

The show itself was beautifully done and was great to watch again after its break during covid. I do recommend anyone who wants to watch it the next time it comes around.


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