Nutcracker Nation How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World Jennifer Fisher

Publication date:
11 Oct 2004
Yale University Press
256 pages: 210 x 140mm
40 b-w illus.

A lively discussion of North America’s favorite ballet—its history, productions, and significance​

The Nutcracker is the most popular ballet in the world, adopted and adapted by hundreds of communities across the United States and Canada every Christmas season. In this entertainingly informative book, Jennifer Fisher offers new insights into the Nutcracker phenomenon, examining it as a dance scholar and critic, a former participant, an observer of popular culture, and an interviewer of those who dance, present, and watch the beloved ballet. Fisher traces The Nutcracker’s historyfrom its St. Petersburg premiere in 1892 through its emigration to North America in the mid-twentieth century to the many productions of recent years. She notes that after it was choreographed by another Russian immigrant to the New World, George Balanchine, the ballet began to thrive and variegate: Hawaiians added hula, Canadians added hockey, Mark Morris set it in the swinging sixties, and Donald Byrd placed it in Harlem. The dance world underestimates The Nutcracker atits peril, Fisher suggests, because the ballet is one of its most powerfully resonant traditions. After starting life as a Russian ballet based on a German tale about a little girl’s imagination, The Nutcracker hasbecome a way for Americans to tell a story about their communal values and themselves.

Jennifer Fisher teaches dance history, theory, and ethnology at Pomona College and at the University of California, Irvine. She writes regularly on dance for the Los Angeles Times.

“A book for dance outsiders and insiders, for all grownups who have lived the Nutcracker experience and wondered about its sometimes crazy mix of history, kids, and pure stage magic.”—Lynn Garafola, coeditor of The Ballets Russes and Its World

"A lively historical and cultural analysis of The Nutcracker."—Publishers Weekly