by Cynthia Near
The Nutcracker Ballet has been a Christmas season staple in the repertoire of a lot of North American dance organizations because the mid 20th century. For some dance corporations the ticket sales from the efficiency of this popular ballet provide more than enough revenue to help their function well over and above the holidays.
The first nutcracker ballet was based on the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by the German author Ernest Theodor Amadeus Hoffman (1776-1822). He was an influential author of fantasy and Gothic horror in the late 18th to early 19th century. The ballet was 1st choreographed and performed in 1892 in Russia with a musical score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1940-1893), who also composed the score for other properly-known ballets these kinds of as Swan Lake and Sleeping Splendor.
Hoffman’s vivid, fantastical stories also presented inspiration for operas, performs, as well as visual artists. The self-taught Czech artist Artur Scheiner (1863-1938) was particularly drawn to children’s fairy tales, the romanticism of Shakespeare, and he observed Hoffman’s stories to be a loaded source for his imaginative illustrations. Attractive linear drawings demonstrating the impact of Artwork Nouveau are common throughout Schreiner’s oeuvre.
This sophisticated night scene from The Nutcracker and the Mouse King is a sensitive balance concerning humor — all the figures in the family are asleep, like the several cats — and terrifying features that seize a instant when we know one thing is about to materialize but we really do not know what. The theatricality of the illustration injects a heightened emotional response to the scene and mirrors the feelings skilled by scores of grownups and kids who have made attending a general performance of The Nutcracker Ballet part of their holiday break tradition.