A hit ballet, long after its debut

These days, Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ is an iconic holiday entertainment staple, produced by companies around the world. In this photo, the Moscow Ballet performs the seasonal crowd-pleaser in Toruń, Poland. But when the ballet debuted this day in 1892 in St. Petersburg, Russia, it was not a hit. ‘The Nutcracker’ was revived and restaged in the early 20th century, but still didn’t make an impact. Then in 1944, the San Francisco Ballet performed the American debut of the ballet to great acclaim. It became a true Christmastime classic 10 years later, when choreographer George Balanchine staged his own 1954 production with the New York City Ballet. Balanchine’s version caught on and inspired other dance companies to stage it themselves. Today, ‘The Nutcracker’ is often such a draw that a staging of Tchaikovsky’s Christmas fantasy can help keep a ballet company financially stable.

The Nutcracker is a two-act ballet, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The libretto is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King".
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Adaptations: The Nutcracker in 3D (2010) · Nutcracker: The Motion Picture (1986) · Shchelkunchik (1973) · Nutcracker Fantasy (1979) · Nutcracker Rouge · Nutcracker
Compositional form: Ballet
First performance of Nutcracker in Mariinsky Theater
The original production of The Nutcracker, 1892