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"Nutcracker" Nation


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About the Author

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.


Dance scholar, critic and former snowflake Fisher presents a lively historical and cultural analysis of The Nutcracker. The beloved ballet bonbon has been performed by the world's most prestigious dance companies, shown on television, adopted and adapted across North America, leaving one dance critic to grumble that, every year, we are all "one more Nutcracker closer to death." Still, Fisher's thoughtful account puts the phenomenon in perspective. Created in 1892 to Tchaikovsky's lush score, The Nutcracker was introduced to North America in the early 20th century by Russian touring companies and legitimized in the 1950s by George Balanchine, who had danced Lev Ivanoff's original steps at St. Petersburg's Maryinsky Theater. Balanchine choreographed his own distinctly Americanized version, adding it to the New York City Ballet's annual holiday repertoire. Televised in the late 1950s, NYCB's Nutcracker was seen across the continent, and as baby boomers were sent off to ballet classes, The Nutcracker became the perfect vehicle to showcase their talents. With its secular holiday appeal, it also became a moneymaker for struggling regional dance companies, who lent their versions of the ballet a unique flavor-hulas in Hawaii, cowboys in Arizona, cross-dressing in Mark Morris's The Hard Nut. Fisher deconstructs many of these versions, analyzing how the ballet has become both an annual ritual and a rite of passage. The Nutcracker may be, as Fisher writes, "the ballet we love to hate," a "clich? in a world that craves constant innovation," but she also explains why it has become a meaningful ritual that Americans have "taken to heart." 40 illus. First serial to Dance Magazine. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"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

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