Childhood Wonder in “The Nutcracker”

Cynthia Wang, Staff Writer

With a beautifully choreographed ballet, an amazing musical score written by none other than Romantic composer Tchaikovsky, and a riveting winter time story told without words or song, it is no surprise that “The Nutcracker” has become one of the most popular ballets of all time.  According to Moscow Ballet, “The Nutcracker,” a ballet performed typically around Christmas time, centers around Clara, a young girl who receives a nutcracker while opening presents on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, “The Nutcracker” turns to life and Clara is taken on a mystical adventure full of magic, sweets, and mice. Junior Richard Wei says, “The mice and Mouse King are a very fun and creative detail for me, even if it is just a gag for children.”  


Many have already seen “The Nutcracker,” and those who have not have definitely heard about it from some place or another. Freshman Alexis Yuen says, “There are ads everywhere you look for [“The Nutcracker”] this time of year so it is pretty hard not to have heard about it.” Furthermore, “The Nutcracker” has gained so much popularity for a plethora of reasons. Yuen states, “I believe that the reason [‘The Nutcracker’] has become so popular is because of the famous composer.” “The Nutcracker’s” score is composed by Tchaikovsky, who is also known for composing 1812 Overture, an innovative piece that uses cannons as an instrument, as well as Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, two more of the most well-known ballets of all time. Another reason why “The Nutcracker” is such a famous ballet is because it has become somewhat of a tradition for many. Wei says, “I used to go with my sister every year to watch it live. We watched it so much that it became something like a holiday tradition for us. She was in ballet and really into that kind of stuff.” Many families watch “The Nutcracker” as festive Christmas entertainment much like some will watch Christmas movies this time of year. Additionally, though sophomore Arya Mahajan has not personally watched “The Nutcracker,” he says, “I have heard that the choreography and execution as a whole are very appealing. The director probably does a very good job with the set up.” Whether it is because of the addictive music written by the one and only Tchaikovsky, the alluring choreography performed by practiced ballerinas that audition in the summer to prepare for the shows months later, or simply because of Christmas tradition, “The Nutcracker” has become one of greatest ballets of all time for a good reason. 


One of the main points explored in “The Nutcracker” is the magic of childhood wonder, but this magic of Christmas seems to be lost with age. Yuen remarks, “Christmas is still an enjoyable holiday, but I think the whole concept of Christmas magic kind of disappears when you grow up. [Christmas] turns into more of just a festive season than a wondrous holiday.” It is not just Yuen who believes this as many agree that growing up takes a lot of the fun out of Christmas. Regardless, the holidays are still an enjoyable time to spend with friends and family. Mahajan says, “My family and I will put up a tree, give each other gifts, and eat good food. Just the basic Christmas celebrations.” Senior Aashika Vishwanath and her family are a bit more festive with their Christmas traditions: “We get matching sweaters and pajamas every year as well as a new tree.” Even so, Vishwanath adds, “For me personally, the appeal of Christmas has not gone away, but I can see how it can for some people.” In terms of ballets like “The Nutcracker,” the enjoyment does not really fade. Though some of the more absurd elements like the mice, fairies, and the overarching winter wonderland lose their magical touch, as children grow up, they start to comprehend the wordless story better than when they were younger. The potential loss of some magical elements of the ballet is combatted with a greater understanding and comprehension of the story and hidden metaphors, so the pleasure of watching “The Nutcracker” is not lost with age, like some may experience with Christmas. 


There are many things that make “The Nutcracker” such a delightful experience for people of all ages. Additionally, it is very appealing in a way that convinces people who have not seen it, like Vishwanath, to consider going to see it. “I have a friend who once took part in ‘The Nutcracker,’” she says. “Though I have not watched it before, I would like to go see it at least once. As a dancer, I think it would be pretty interesting for me,” Vishwanath adds It is not just new viewers who want to go and experience “The Nutcracker.” Wei shows that “The Nutcracker” can be entertaining even for people rewatching it over and over again. Whether you are a longtime enjoyer of ballets and Christmas cheer or someone who has a bit of free time to kill, “The Nutcracker” is a mystical and thrilling watch for people of all ages.