George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this production sparkles with that magical Christmas feeling, but some kids may get bored with the longer dance scenes. There's no dialogue in this traditional ballet except for hushed narration, and don't expect any Home Alone-style antics from Macaulay Culkin. The story does have some brief, mildly scary scenes. For example, the Nutcracker Prince battles the multi-headed Mouse King in a gore-free choreographed sword fight.
What's the story?
Choreographed by the renowned George Balanchine and danced beautifully by the New York City Ballet, this production of THE NUTCRACKER features Macaulay Culkin as the Nutcracker Prince. Kevin Kline's hushed narration makes it easy to follow the story. In the first act, young Marie (Jessica Lynn Cohen) celebrates Christmas Eve with her family. The magic begins when Marie's mysterious godfather, Drosselmeier (Bart Robinson Cook), introduces her to his extraordinary nephew (Macaulay Culkin) and gives her a nutcracker, which her naughty little brother breaks. Late at night, Marie sneaks down to the living room to be with her beloved, broken nutcracker. And so begins a fantastic dream scene filled with life-sized toy soldiers, giant mice, dancing candy canes, whirling snowflakes, and, of course, the graceful Sugar Plum Fairy.
Is it any good?
A good way to introduce kids to ballet and classical music, this fine production dazzles the eyes and ears despite a flat performance by Macaulay Culkin as the Nutcracker Prince. There's plenty of eye candy for kids of all ages (the sets drip with Christmas decorations and fanciful scenery), and the storyline should keep most kids interested, up to a point.
If your young one really loves to dance, then they may enjoy the entire 92 minutes, but kids with short attention spans -- or those who aren't the least bit interested in dancing -- may wander off to search for hidden presents.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how Tchaikovsky's music helps tell the story. What types of instruments are playing during the darker, scarier scenes? What types of instruments are playing during the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, and why does the melody fit the scene so well? How do the dancers use their bodies and facial expressions to tell a story, without speaking?