Getting to the Nutcracker

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Getting to the Nutcracker Movie Poster Image
Compelling docu about young dancers who live for ballet.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Kids learn the value of hard work while watching others go for their dream. Also some of what it takes to put on a ballet production.

Positive Messages

Anything worthwhile requires hard work and dedication, but it all pays off.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The talented young dancers all show how committed they are to their art; it really comes through when you see the final performance.

Violence & Scariness

The studio owner, Marat Daukayav, can be very stern.

Sexy Stuff

The entire film promotes Los Angeles' Marat Daukayav School of Ballet.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Getting to the Nutcracker follows a troupe of young dancers as they prepare to perform the classic ballet. The children range in age from very young to teenagers, though most of the film focuses on the older kids, who discuss why they love dance and what it means to them. The featured Los Angeles studio is run by Marat Daukayav, once a star of Russia's Kirov Ballet, who is very traditional and very stern, yet very loving and protective of his students. There's no smoking, drinking, swearing, or sex -- just a bunch of hardworking kids who are very dedicated to their craft.

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What's the story?

Maurat Daukayav, once a star dancer with Russia's Kirov Ballet, is now training a new generation of performers at a studio on Los Angeles. They're focused, driven, and oh so talented, and, in GETTING TO THE NUTCRACKER, they explain how dancing is more than just a performance -- it's a way of life. The documentary follows the talented troupe as they prepare to perform the beloved holiday story, spending time with the main players both at home and backstage. Viewers learn who they are as people and how ballet has shaped them into who they are. And finally, magically, we also get to see an amazing performance -- which shows why their hard work was worth it.

Is it any good?

In Getting to the Nutcracker, filmmakers take viewers behind the curtain for a captivating look at the dancers who make this classic ballet come to life. And, refreshingly, it's not a big-name dance company that gets the scrutiny; it's an L.A. school where the future's best dancers might be waiting in the wings.

Dancing is hard, and making a movie about it is harder still. What makes Getting to the Nutcracker appealing is also its biggest weakness: lack of star power. While it's wonderful to meet the likes of Mikhael, Matissem and Elizabeth -- and lovely to see Marat at work with the kids -- there doesn't seem to be much tension in the storyline. You never doubt that the ballet will be staged beautifully. To watch this film is to appreciate ballet in all its beauty -- the cinematography is stunning -- but expect little to no drama to propel the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the teacher-student relationship. How does Daukayav relate to his dancers? What do they think about their instructor?

  • How do you feel about ballet? Does Getting to the Nutcracker make you appreciate it more? Can you understand why the students feel so passionately about their art form?

  • Are the students featured in the film role models? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dance

Themes & Topics

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