The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker


Ballet companies all over the world perform The Nutcracker during the holiday season, each with a special take on Marius Petipa’s beloved classic. The National Ballet of Canada has one of the finest versions in James Kudelka’s staging from 1995, which opens at a Christmas Eve party in rural 19th century Russia. With non-stop dancing and magnificent sets and costumes from Santo Loquasto with lighting by Jennifer Tipton, The Nutcracker is an unforgettable tribute to the imagination.

Nutcracker View Gallery

The Story

Arguing siblings Misha and Marie attend a Christmas party at their country estate when their mysterious Uncle Nikolai arrives, bearing gifts. These include a beautiful nutcracker doll for Marie who takes it to the nursery that night. Then the magic begins. The clock strikes twelve, the Christmas tree grows to enormous proportions, and Misha and Marie journey to lands of ice and sweets where they must learn to get along.

Five Things to Know
  1. 1Marius Petipa’s two-act ballet The Nutcracker premiered in Russia in 1892 set to original music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the final of his three full-length ballet scores. The story was based on E.T.A Hoffman’s story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
  2. 2Kudelka’s adaptation changes the focus of Hoffman’s story from a little girl to siblings Misha and Marie. Their journey to the land of sweets presents them with challenges, and is a metaphor for growing up.
  3. 3Instead of toys coming to life in Act 1, Kudelka presents animals: a lifelike dancing Horse and two Bears, one of them on rollerblades! The production also includes a Rooster, Sheep, Fox and Unicorns, among other creatures.
  4. 4In Kudelka’s staging, the famous Waltz of the Flowers includes a Bee – a truly unique addition that features some of the most dazzling choreography in the ballet.
  5. 5The production features 98 children from Canada’s National Ballet School and high schools all over Toronto, the youngest of which are the Lambs in Act II. An additional 20 young singers from VIVA! Youth Singers of Toronto join The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra for the famous Snow scene.
The Choreographer

James Kudelka served as Resident Choreographer of The National Ballet of Canada following his nine years as Artistic Director. He choreographs in a variety of styles and forms, from original full-length ballets to short contemporary works and remounted classics.

The Composer

The late 19th century Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most popular works in the classical repertoire, particularly his three full-length scores for ballet: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. His body of work includes full-length operas, multiple symphonies and concertos.


Choreography and Libretto:
James Kudelka, O.C.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Set and Costume Design:
Santo Loquasto

Lighting Design:
Jennifer Tipton

The Nutcracker is made possible by generous financial support from production underwriters Sandra Pitblado & Jim Pitblado, C.M., Lawrence & Ann Heisey and an anonymous friend of the National Ballet.

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