A trip to the city to see “The Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition for many families around the world and a great way to introduce kids to ballet and classical music. Written by legendary Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, it uses music and dance to tell the story of Clara, a girl who is given a nutcracker for Christmas. In Clara’s dreams, the nutcracker becomes a prince, and she accompanies him on an adventure to battle the Mouse King. Many versions of The Nutcracker are performed in cities throughout the world each year, but Atlanta is the only place to see the Atlanta Ballet’s unique production. Premiered in 2018, the ballet incorporates immersive visual effects along with fresh choreography.
Tchaikovsky wrote The Nutcracker in the 1890s, based on a short story written in 1816. At first, it wasn't a successful ballet, though a selection of compositions from the ballet called “The Nutcracker Suite” became popular Christmas music. In the 1950s George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York Ballet, introduced new choreography that increased the popularity of the full ballet in the U.S. In the 1960s, George Barnett, a protégé of Balanchine, became artistic director of the Atlanta Ballet, and the Balanchine version was performed at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theater for decades.
In 2018, Atlanta Ballet premiered a new version of the Nutcracker featuring choreography by Yuri Possokhov, in-house choreographer for the San Francisco Ballet, as well as lavish new sets, costumes, and video projections by an award-winning team of designers. In this video, Atlanta Ballet’s artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin explains the vision behind the new production:
The new version was a hit in Atlanta, and in 2019 the company performed it at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in addition to performing it for the last time at the Fox Theater. Starting in 2020, Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker will play at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in northwest Atlanta.
Cover image by Kim Kenney courtesy of Atlanta Ballet.