Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece The Nutcracker has been a treasured tradition for many each holiday season. The magical Christmas ballet tells the story of Clara and her unsettling dream about a Nutcracker prince. And you can see it on Dec. 6!

Courtesy of Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet

By Peg Cameron Gill

MU’s University Concert Series is pleased to present the breathtaking ballet on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 7 PM in Jesse Auditorium on the campus in Columbia.

Experience the extraordinary international cast and Ukrainian principal artists performing at the peak of classical European ballet. You’ll  be transfixed by the magic of draw jaw-dropping acrobatics, larger-than- life puppets, and stunning handcrafted sets and costumes. 

In addition to the professional dancers, local children from Mareck Dance Studio will also be performing. Tickets run from $35 to $55 dollars, and you can buy them here.

The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story The Nutcracker and the King of Mice written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Although what’s seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic plot’s the same: The story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads. 

When Marius Petipa had the idea to choreograph the story into a ballet, it was actually based on a revision by Alexander Dumas, a well known French author. His version reflects more of what we’ve come to love as the Nutcracker Ballet.

The ballet begins with a party scene. It’s Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house — a large and grand house with the most beautiful tree imaginable. The Stahlbaums are hosting their annual Christmas party, welcoming their arriving family and friends. The children, Clara and Fritz, are dancing and playing as they welcome their friends, too.

The party grows festive with music and dance as godfather Dr. Drosselmeyer arrives. He’s a skilled clock and toy maker. Drosselmeyer draws everyone’s attention as he presents two life-size dolls. They are the delight of the party, each taking a turn to dance.

The children begin to open presents when Drosselmeyer gives his gifts to Clara and Fritz. Although Fritz’s gift is quite nice, Clara receives a beautiful Nutcracker. Fritz becomes jealous, grabs the Nutcracker from Clara and breaks it. Clara’s heartbroken watching as Dr. Drosselmeyer quickly repairs the Nutcracker with a handkerchief he magically draws from the air.

When it grows late, the guests leave and the Stahlbaum family retires for the evening. Clara, worried about her beloved Nutcracker, sneaks back to the tree to check on him and falls asleep with him in her arms.

 As the clock strikes midnight strange things begin to happen. Clara starts to shrink as her beautiful Christmas tree grows above her. The toys around the tree come to life, while the room fills with an army of mice, led by the fierce Mouse King. As the Nutcracker awakens, he leads his army of toy soldiers into battle with the mice. The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker and his army are captured by the mice and their king. Clara makes a final daring charge throwing her slipper at the Mouse King, hitting him square on the head. The Mouse King drops to the floor and the mice run away, carrying off their leader’s lifeless body.

The Nutcracker turns into a prince and takes Clara to the Land of Snow, an enchanted forest wonderland  where they are welcomed by dancing snowflakes.

The prince then escorts Clara to the Land of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy.  The prince tells her about their daring battle with the army of mice and she rewards them with a celebration of different dances.

As a finale, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier dance a beautiful pas de deux. Clara then wakes up from her dream and finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved Nutcracker.

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