(I’m going to be more proactive on here during the coming month, aka winter break. And after listening to way too many Conversations on Dance podcasts, I’m breaking through with this ballet-centric, verge on anti-ballet post/assignment.)
Why are all American ballet companies obsessed with this dusty, old, broken ballet?
There are so many reasons, and obviously, a lot of people have taken the time to sort through the history of The Nutcracker. I’m not interested in that (plus I’ve been there done that, and honestly wasn’t shocked by how little this ballet has changed in terms of plot and originality; it’s yet another outdated drapery in the world of ballet history). Despite my intense attraction to overall dance history, this one ballet is a portal of nothingness for me. I don’t care about it. It could disappear into the void today and I wouldn’t be phased.
It’s not a “holiday tradition” in my current life, although it was at one point with TV reruns of PNB’s now forgotten Stowell/Sendak version.
I don’t have any fond performance memories, although I “danced” Arabian for two years in my studio production.
I’m not interested in watching another production/version ever again, although I applaud Joffrey/Wheeldon’s recent tailored-made Chicago-centered production, much like Washington Ballet’s frontiersman Georgetown-centered production.
Millions are at stake for ballet companies when it comes to this ballet. Every year, every single fucking company in America goes batshit crazy and the audience eats it up cause they’ve been conditioned into it from a very young age (don’t even get me started on the materialistic trap that is Nutcracker Market).
And it’s not even a good ballet! It’s totally broken, boring, and in bad taste. Following the original Russian origins, it makes no sense in 21st century America (those Diverts can fuck off already…) The music is nice, I’ll admit, but totally ruined when it’s played on a JcPenny’s commercial on YouTube for the billionth time…
Companies drive their dancers, students, and staff to the point of inexcusable exhaustion while managing to forget the entire first half of the season ever happened and that the following half of the season is on its way. I can bet you that there’s not a single corps dancer who’s 100% (or even 50%) excited about the season once they’re in a company. It’s hell and it’s not worth it. If the entire chaotic marathon season that all U.S. companies opt for was cut down to a normal amount of performances and attention, MAYBE I’d be more supportive of this ballet.
But it’s not.
So, here’s my solution/holiday assignment to myself (and to you, dear reader, if you care to join):
hold the nuts
Starting now going into the entire month of December, and ending at the start of January, avoid all Nutcracker related videos/photos/music/posts/etc.
Don’t like posts on social media related to it, don’t search it (aside from this post for me), don’t contribute to the mass marketing of it, don’t listen to it, steer dancer conversations away from it, go support/watch dance that isn’t at all related to it (The Hard Nut doesn’t exactly count but if it’s all you can do, go for it).
Why, you might ask?
It’s going to be hard to avoid this single ballet this country has come to rely on for decades. But I can guarantee you that it can be done. And I want to do this. It’s kinda the dance version of Small Business Saturday in response to Black Friday.
Dance isn’t just ballet.
Ballet isn’t just The Nutcracker.
The Nutcracker doesn’t make the holiday season.
See you on the other side.