Christmas time is Nutcracker time, thinks Canadian dance researcher Jennifer Fisher, whose amusing book “Nutcracker Nation” tells us how the Russian “Nutcracker” of 1892 became the New World’s favourite ballet. In five chapters, Fisher attempts to elucidate the question of who regularly submits to the ritual of a “Nutcracker” performance at Christmas and why.
To this end, Jennifer Fisher went into the North American provinces, to visit an amateur dance group in Virginia, and to the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto, armed with a tape recorder and notebook, to take a closer look at the cult ballet.
The “Nutcracker” first appeared in 1944 in San Francisco and was staged in New York in 1954. After that its rise was meteoric, even reaching the White House. It was not until after its success in America that the Nutcracker went back to its country of birth. As both immigrant and emigrant, it has a split personality. A neglected European poor relation in search of a new home, The “Nutcracker” naturally had its problems. Its fate is to become anything as long as a few elements of the original libretto and the Tchaikovsky score are kept. No matter how one handles it; once the ...