The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky’s ballet about a Christmas toy that comes to life, is an integral part of the holiday season for many Americans. Shown here, young dancers prepare backstage for their roles as reindeer in the Boston Ballet’s production.
The Nutcracker premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1892 and became popular in the United States after the great Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine mounted a production in 1954.
For many Americans, The Nutcracker is an introduction to the world of ballet. This year it is being performed in more than 120 cities and towns across the United States, according to a count by the Los Angeles Times. The productions range from the New York City Ballet’s Balanchine-inspired extravaganza to performances at secondary schools and children’s dance academies. It is so popular that many local ballet companies depend on the proceeds from their annual Nutcracker performances to keep them afloat for the rest of the year.