It is a beloved holiday tradition for many to enjoy sugarplum fairies dancing to the captivating score
of Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky. Adults and children alike will have an opportunity to watch George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. The performances run throughout the month of December, opening December 7 and closing
on December 29. The Academy of Music offers both matinee and evening performances: Friday, 7:00 PM; Saturday, 2:00 PM and
7:00 PM; Sunday, 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM; Monday, 2:00 PM; Tuesday, 12:00 PM; Thursday, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Tschaikovsky's score
is brought to life by the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and the Philadelphia Boys Choir, as the students of The School of
Pennsylvania Ballet bourree and jete in glittering costumes across the elaborately designed set.
captivating ballet score and beautifully crafted sets are what illuminate the relatively simple tale of The Nutcracker. On
Christmas Eve, the main character, Clara, is given a nutcracker doll by her seemingly mysterious uncle. During a squabble
with Clara's brother, the nutcracker is broken and later fixed by her uncle. While delighted that her beloved nutcracker was
fixed, Clara is unable to sleep and sneaks downstairs to check on it. The nutcracker comes to life after the strike of midnight
to protect Clara from an army of mice and the Mouse King that invaded the room. The nutcracker escorts Clara on an incredible
journey to the Kingdom of Sweets and through the magical and beautiful Land of Snow, where she watches the dance of the sugar
plum fairy. The story ends just as magically as it begins, leaving the audience wondering if it was only a dream.
Nutcracker first debuted at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 18, 1892 by the Kirov Ballet. The
first performance double premiered with the last opera Tchaikovsy wrote, lolanta. The Nutcracker was an adaptation of a story
called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King that was written by the German writer, composter, caricaturist and painter E.T.A.
Hoffman in 1816. The original story is a dark fairytale that was intended for adult audiences and was rewritten by the French
writer Alexandre Dumas to be a light-hearted version to appeal to children. The French-born dancer and chief master of the
Russian Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa, was moved by the Dumas version and inspired to choreograph a ballet. It was mostly
happenstance that led to its choreography by Lev Ivanov and music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. As the primary Maryinsky's
choreographer, in addition to his role as chief master, Petipa gave Ivanov the opportunity to act as choreographer. While
Petipa and Tchaikovsky collaborated together to bring audiences some of the better known and beloved ballets of all time (including
Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake), Tchaikovsky was not keen to accept the commission to write the music and was even less impressed
with it upon completion. While the ballet performance of The Nutcracker is considered an essential part of many winter holiday
traditions in present day, the original ballet was not warmly received. While the ballet did not discover popularity in the
New York staging by George Balanchine in 1954, American audiences discovered in William Christensen's full-length production
at the San Francisco Ballet in 1944. Balanchine was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and moved to the United States of America
in 1933 to create a ballet company with the American arts patron, Lincoln Kirstein. Balanchine later collaborated with Kirstein
to found The School of American Ballet, where Balanchine served as the ballet master and principal choreographer until his
death in 1983. Balanchine's The Nutcracker utilizes Alexandre Dumas' version of E.T.A Hoffman's tale and adds an entr'acte
that was written by Tchaikovsky for Act II of Sleeping Beauty to the original Nutcracker score.
Pennsylvania Ballet is considered one of the premier ballet companies in the United States of America. The company is presently
comprised of 40 dancers. The principle dancers in The Nutcracker are Julie Diana and Ian Hussey, playing Clara and the Nutcracker.
The Pennsylvania Ballet selected Roy Kaiser as Artistic Director. Kaiser was a former company member.
While he has expanded the company's repertoire to include works by additional choreographers, the company will continue its
annual critically acclaimed production of Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Balanchine is noted at the Choreographer. The Pennsylvania
Ballet Orchestra, led by its Music Director and Conductor Beatrice Jona Affron, will play the score. Joining the Pennyslvania
Ballet and its orchestra is the Philadelphia Boys Choir, recipient of an Emmy award and a Grammy nomination, led by Music
Director Jeffrey R. Smith. The Pennsylvania Ballet, founded in 1963 by one of Balanchine's students Barbara Weisberger, has
partnered with The Salvation Army this year. Audiences are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys for children in need. The
toys will be collected at the theater and later distributed to families across the Delaware Valley.