The Nutcracker

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The Nutcracker made its world premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia, on this day in 1892. It wasn’t a huge success, although Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” a 20-minute selection of music from the score he wrote for it did become popular. But the ballet’s big success still lay in the future–during the Cold War, when the Russian ballet, thanks to a Russian choreographer, became an American Christmas tradition.

People flock to see The Nutcracker because it is as much a part of the Christmas tradition as Santa Claus, appealing even to those who aren’t ballet fans but know the story and Tchaikovsky score. Then, as now, ballet companies around the country relied on this Christmas tradition to bring in significant chunks of their income for the year–up to 40 percent in some cases.

But how did a middling successful ballet with an admittedly great score become a classic performed by ballet troupes around North America?

In the United States for many years when the Ballet Society, performed a version of The Nutcracker in New York in 1955 that became the template and inspiration for all versions performed across North America in the decades since. A less ambitious version of The Nutcracker based on the “Nutcracker Suite” had been performed in the U.S. in 1938, and a successful full-length version in San Francisco in 1944.



  • Nutcracker: An instrument for cracking nuts open.
  • Flock: A group of birds or sheep.
  • Chunk: A large piece of something.
  • Middling: Medium or average, or neither very good nor very bad.


Read this story in English to improve your vocabulary.


  • What’s your favorite part of this story?

Welcome to this activity created by Junior Advisor Mr. Hugo Enrique Sánchez from Polanco Branch. Take note of all the pink words, read the text, watch the video and answer the question in the comment section below.

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