Nuts About 'The Nutcracker'
By Sarah Kaufman,
The Washington Post's dance critic
Wednesday, December 17, 2003; Page C01
NUTCRACKER NATION More
How an Old World Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in the New World
By Jennifer Fisher
Yale University Press. 230 pp. $27
Each year, from shore to shore, in America's opera houses, civic centers and school gymnasiums, "The Nutcracker" accounts for millions of dollars of revenue. The ballet's popularity sends the familiar Tchaikovsky score wafting through shopping malls, supermarkets and TV commercials. "The Nutcracker" has become as much a part of the Christmas season as tinsel and Tiny Tim; one year, during the Clinton administration, it even inspired the White House's holiday decor. (That was when teenage Chelsea famously danced in the Washington Ballet's four-decades-old version, and the first parents were allied with thousands of others across the country in cheering their child's participation.)
Yet, given the ballet's enduring appeal, there is a surprising lack of literature on "The Nutcracker." With "Nutcracker Nation," Jennifer Fisher has produced one of the first focused examinations of why this particular Russian ballet has enjoyed such success in America, since it became established here only 50 years ago, while it is much less appreciated in its birthplace and throughout the rest of the world.