Literature and Language

Kicking Off the Christmas Season Early With a Sweet Nutcracker Ballet

November 13, 2017

Six weekends until Christmas!  Forty-two days to be exact!

Stores are already glittered and glammed up with red, green, silver and gold casting shadows on warm burgundies and mustard-yellows.  Turkeys and fall-foliage trampled by herds of soldier nutcrackers and shiny-nosed reindeer.  Retail workers are lurking in the aisles waiting to whisk away anything reminiscent of fall to make room for more ornaments and bows.

For weeks retail workers have been brushing glitter off of their brows.

It is still early.  We haven’t even crossed the threshold to Thanksgiving dinner.

But, I must admit, with every year that passes, I embrace the early displays more and more.  After all, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is quite short.  And, it never seems like there is enough time.  So, yesterday, we jumped into the Christmas season with both feet.

We attended a Nutcracker tea that couldn’t be sweeter.  A local dance studio performed an abbreviated version of The Nutcracker to tables of young children and their parents.  After the performance, attendees were served plates of sweet concoctions, which also dress the part.  An impressive and tasty display to say the least.

Nutcracker Tea Treats

The event is held in a beautiful ballroom, where white linens and chiavari chairs add to the magic of the centerpieces and intricate costumes of the dancers.

Nutcracker Centerpieces

Nutcracker Dancers

Nutcrackers of all color combinations are available for purchase.  Even ones with pink hats.

E's Nutcracker

And they incite games of marching and chasing upon exit from the venue.

Running with Nutcracker Zest

But there is more.  The icing on the cake.  Every bit of the proceeds from the fun and delight benefit a wonderful organization called Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids.  Right down to the purchase of the tiny, soldier nutcrackers.

Founded in 2000 by 2 local disc jockeys, Grin Kids provides an all-expense paid trip to Walt Disney World to chronically disabled or terminally ill children, their families and caregivers.  The Nutcracker Tea is one of their fundraisers.

You can learn more about Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids here, where you can also make a donation.  It is an organization very worthy of consideration as you align your charitable giving.

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is a ballet that centers on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration.

The story is about a young girl, Clara, awakening on Christmas Eve to the wider world and romantic love.  Friends and family have gathered to decorate the Christmas tree in preparation for a party.  The children come to see the tree and receive presents.

A mysterious figure enters the room.  It is Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather.  He brings with him toys for the children, including lifelike dolls who dance for everyone.  After he puts them away, he presents the children with a wooden nutcracker.  While all of the other children ignore it, Clara takes a liking to it.  Fritz, Clara’s brother, breaks it.  She is devastated.

After everyone goes to bed, Clara returns to check on her nutcracker.  As she does, the clock strikes midnight and Clara finds herself in the middle of a fight between gingerbread soldiers and mice, who are led by the Mouse King.  The Nutcracker appears to lead the soldiers and with Clara’s help they defeat the mice.

The Nutcracker transforms into a prince and they travel to the land of sweets where Clara watches as dancers representing sweets from around the world dance for her amusement.

The story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by E.T.A. Hoffmann was adapted by Alexandre Dumas Pere and called The Tale of the Nutcracker.  It was set to music by Tchaikovsky.  The ballet was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and premiered a week before Christmas 1892.

The original production was not a success, but since premiering in western countries in the 1940s and 50’s the Nutcracker ballet has become quite popular, especially at Christmas time.

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