Cover image for "Nutcracker" nation : how an Old World ballet became a Christmas tradition in the New World
"Nutcracker" nation : how an Old World ballet became a Christmas tradition in the New World
Fisher, Jennifer, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xix, 230 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV1790.N8 F57 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV1790.N8 F57 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
GV1790.N8 F57 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Nutcracker is the most popular ballet in the world, adopted and adapted by hundreds of communities across the United States and Canada every Christmas season. In this volume, Jennifer Fisher offers insights into the Nutcracker phenomenon, examining it as a dance scholar and critic, a former participant, an observer of popular culture and an interviewer of those who dance, present and watch the beloved ballet. 1892 through its emigration to North America in the mid-20th century to the many later productions. She notes that after it was choreographed by another Russian immigrant to the New World, George Balanchine, the ballet began to thrive and variegate: Hawaiians added hula, Canadians added hockey, Mark Morris set it in the swinging sixties, and Donald Byrd placed it in Harlem. The dance world underestimates The Nutcracker at its peril, Fisher suggests, because the ballet is one of its most powerfully resonant traditions. After starting life as a Russian ballet based on a German tale about a little girl's imagination, The Nutcracker has become a way for Americans to tell a story about their communal values and themselves.

Author Notes

Jennifer Fisher teaches dance history, theory, and ethnology at Pomona College and the University of California, Irvine. She writes regularly on dance for the Los Angeles Times

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
1 The Early Yearsp. 3
2 Making Friends at Christmastimep. 42
3 Fitting Inp. 80
4 Experiences and Relationshipsp. 132
5 The Meaning of Lifep. 171
Notesp. 195
Bibliographyp. 213
Indexp. 221
Photo Creditsp. 229