The Nutcracker ballet has been a major December tradition for me ever since I was a little girl. I first saw Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland on PBS when I was 18 months old and as my parents tell it, I was transfixed. My mom took me to my first live performance two years later and since then it's been a yearly tradition to attend the ballet. We would often invite another mother-daughter duo to come along with us and make a day of it.
If we were traveling in December, we'd try to see a production wherever we happened to be, so I've seen Nutcracker performances in places as far reaching as Sarasota Springs, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; Edinburgh, Scotland, and many others besides. After seeing so much variety, I know what I like when it comes to choreography, costumes, staging, etc. Like, the Arabian dance should showcase feats of flexibility and strength, and Mother Ginger's children should be little acrobatic whizzes.
I haven't been to any performances since I've been married, and now with a little one taking in a show uninterrupted would be difficult. But this year I was determined that we should have our own little Nutcracker viewing. So, I ordered a DVD of the New York City Ballet's The Nutcracker and Douglas and I set a date on the calendar.
To add to the fun we had a little Nutcracker-themed tea beforehand. The treats were a motley assortment culled from the various nationalities and sweets in Act II of the ballet. To wit: Chinese egg rolls, Russian blinis, marzipan and cream puffs, gingerbread scones (for Mother Ginger), Spanish chocolate, and (Arabian) Turkish Delight. Oh, and Simpson & Vail's Nutcracker tea, a "delectable tea blend comprised of black tea, almond pieces, orange peel, cranberries and cinnamon & chocolate mint flavors."
Unfortunately, my choice of DVD was a bit of a flop. I think kids would enjoy it because the two main roles of Marie and the Nutcracker are played by young children, but that meant that dancing was scarce in the first act. When we got to Act II, I found the choreography frankly boring. Afterward I looked up the Baryshnikov/Kirkland production on YouTube and realized I should have stuck with that version for spectacular dancing. I'm thinking next December...