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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Happy Nutcracker Season!

Meme (Mirliton Meme CCB) 2 Giovanni_Domenico_Tiepolo_-_Minuet_in_Villa_-_WGA22389
Created with Wikimedia Commons Public Domain Image.

5 Stages of Post-Nutcracker Grief

All the feels. Every December. Can you relate? 😉

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Created with Wikimedia Commons Public Domain Image.

Denial

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Linger as long as possible at the theater. Take one last cast picture with friends. Take one last dressing room selfie. Help anyone and everyone put away costumes and props, whether they need or want your help or not. Take one last panoramic view of the stage. Take one last artsy, Instagram photo of the stage…Repeat as desired–or until security throws you out.

Frustration

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Wonder why magic has to end so soon… Suddenly recall every real (or imagined) shortcoming in your performances–your double turns, your nervous smiles, that time you put your headpiece on backwards during a quick change–valuable moments onstage you’ll never get back….Why, why, why…

Bargaining

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Remember that the show can still go on…on social media! Make photo albums for Facebook. Add half a dozen filtered pictures and videos to Instagram in one evening. Tweet cryptic, bittersweet tweets hourly. If anyone unfollows you for oversharing, well, they weren’t a true friend anyway…

Anyway, at least there is next year… Yes, think about next year… There are probably three or four roles you’d be a candidate for… But, which ones are you most likely to get? So many factors worthy of obsession here… What if you grow a couple of inches? What if you somehow shrink? What if your petit allegro miraculously improves?

Gloom

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Resistance is futile. Listen to sad songs. Indulge in mournful improv.

Try to distract yourself…Chocolate. Peppy music. Movie binge. Chocolate. Peppy music. Movie binge. Clean your room for the first time in forever. Peppy music. It’s going to be okay! You are sooo okay!

Go to bed. Lie awake. Get back on Facebook. Post more backstage pictures.

Acceptance

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Sometimes, it actually happens…eventually. 😉