Nutcracker Trivia: 3 Surprising Facts About the Original “Kingdom of Sweets”

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The Nutcracker first came alive through dance over 100 winters ago in St. Petersburg, Russia. Here’s what you might not know about Act II of 1892…

1.  The “Waltz of the Flowers” Was Inspired by Another Famous Ballet Waltz

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What do Disney’s song “Once Upon a Dream” and the “Waltz of the Flowers” have in common?

They share the same source of inspiration!

The Nutcracker’s original choreographer, Marius Petipa, wanted the “Waltz of the Flowers” to evoke the scene of the “Village Waltz” (a.k.a. “Garland Waltz”) that he created in his collaboration with composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for The Sleeping Beauty two years earlier.

Petipa’s original outline for the “Waltz of the Flowers” even called for dancers to carry garlands…

2. The “Trepak” Was Sugar-Free

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There wasn’t a candy cane in sight, nor a Russian character dancer for that matter…

Russian character steps were Petipa’s original plan, but when illness forced him to bow out of the production, his assistant, Lev Ivanov, who was put in charge, eventually decided that he didn’t care for this idea.

Following the suggestion of an artist, Ivanov changed the “Trepak” into a dance for a jester with a hoop.

Yes, he did indeed send in the clowns…

3. The Sugar Plum Fairy Had Nothing to Do with Plums

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Though she’s often gorgeously costumed in visions of purple today, this most beloved fairy in all of ballet was not meant to represent a serving of your daily fruit intake.

Plums preserved in sugar have been around for centuries, but the sugar plums that inspired the Sugar Plum Fairy were once-popular sweets made of sugar coating layered over nut or seed centers.

If that description sounds a little, well, underwhelming—never fear—there’s more to the story…

The meaning of “sugar plum” radiates beyond the realm of candy. At the time The Nutcracker first appeared on stage, the term also meant anything lovely and desirable.

So, yes, the Sugar Plum Fairy is truly sugar, spice, and everything nice!


Resources:

~Print~

The Life and Ballets of Lev Ivanov: Choreographer of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Roland John Wiley, Oxford University Press, 1997.

The Nutcracker Ballet, Jack Anderson, Mayflower Books, 1979

Nutcracker Nation, Jennifer Fisher, Yale University Press, 2003

~Web~

Alexander Shiriaev: The Hidden Genius of Ballet and Film, Wendy Perron, Dance Magazine online, Dec. 23, 2011

What Are Sugar Plums Anyway?, Rebecca Rupp, National Geographic, December 23, 2014

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7 First-Ballet-Class-of-the-Season Feelings

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Photo by Rachel Hellwig.

1. I’m back!!! Where have you been all my life?!

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2. New leotard=unstoppable

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3. How can I still do multiple turns, but can’t remember how to tendu?

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5. Happy, happy, happy…

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6. I believe I can fly again…

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7. Forgot how glorious that after-class feeling is…

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8. Really should organize my ballet bag someday…

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Secrets Revealed: 10 Things Bunheads Do When They’re Not Dancing…

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You’ve always wondered…Here’s the truth… 😉

1. Daydream About Dance

All the time. Everywhere we go. When you would never suspect it.

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2. Choreograph in Our Thoughts

If we’re listening to music, there’s a good chance we’re mentally creating, staging, or restaging ballets.

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3. Binge on YouTube Ballet Videos

Oops, 6 hours just passed? Oh well…

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4. Read About Ballet

As difficult as it is to remain still (if we’re not watching dance), we suffer through it for articles, books, and blogs about ballet…

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5. Sew Our Pointe Shoes

It must be done—like it or not. But listening to ballet music, a ballet podcast, or a ballet advice video helps pass the time…

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6. Cross Train!

This is why you watch/listen to TV, right?

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7. Look at Social Media Accounts of Our Favorite Dancers

They. Are. So. Amazing. #Goals

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8. Try Not to Obsess About How Much We Want to Be Dancing Right This Very Minute

Yes, we know we need to rest. And yet…

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9. Binge on YouTube Ballet Videos: Round 2 (or 3 or 4…)

Seriously, how did bunheads survive before YouTube?

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10. Do Things Totally Unrelated to Ballet

It’s a good change of pace. Then it starts to feel really weird and boring…

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Happy Monday!

Know that feeling? 😉 Hope your summer is filled with many ballet victories! 🙂

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Created with Wikimedia Commons Public Domain Image.

7 Stages of a Bunhead Summer…

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Photo by Rachel Hellwig.

How is your summer going? What stage are you experiencing? 😉

1. Post-Recital Blues

How is ballet season over yet?!

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2. Summer Intensive Prep

Just focus on summer intensive, focus on summer intensive…

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3. Summer Intensive

Ahh, finally…

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4. Intensive Performance

THIS. IS. WHAT. SUMMER. IS. ABOUT.

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5. Post-Intensive Slump

Can this please be over yet?

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6. Beginning of Nutcracker Season

Time to start thinking about auditions! September is just around the corner!

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7. First-Day-of-Fall-Classes Countdown

And 5,6,7,8 – can’t wait!

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