Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nutcrackers & Ballet Shoes

The Nutcracker ballet originated in 1892, in Russia, and migrated to the United States in the 1940's, playing in large cities such as New York and San Francisco. By the 1960's the Nutcracker was a Christmas tradition throughout the country. I saw my first live performance in 1989 when I took my then four-year old daughter to see our local production.  We were both mesmerized by the ballet and our love affair with nutcrackers began.  The following year she was a performer in the Nutcracker as a Marshmallow, dancing out of Mother Marshmallow's skirt. She performed in the ballet a few more years before moving on to other hobbies.

Over the years my nutcracker collection has grown.  My mantle is filled with them, nutcracker ornaments adorn my Christmas tree, I've made cross stitch nutcracker pieces. Each year, as I unpack the Christmas boxes and find the nutcrackers, I find myself thinking back to a young girl's excitement at seeing the Nutcracker and the Rat King battle, idolizing the Sugar Plum Fairy, wearing her prettiest Christmas dress for our outing and, later, endless rehearsals and her smile at the end of the night as she held a bouquet of flowers received for a dance performance well done. Time has gone so fast and that little girl is now a grown woman with a daughter of her own.

Following in her aunt's footsteps, our oldest granddaughter will be performing in the Nutcracker this weekend. It will be the third time she has participated in this ballet. She dreams of one day performing in the role of Clara. One can only hope that her dancing dreams come true.

I made sugar cookies (recipe here) and took to her rehearsal one evening. Though she's too young for pointe shoes she can have them in the form of a cookie!

With two more granddaughters involved in dance I believe the Nutcracker will continue to play an important part in our family's Christmas traditions.

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