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The Nutcracker was originally based on the story of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse" written by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann. The story was later adapted by Alexander Dumas to "The Nutcracker" to make it more fun for kids to read. In 1891, Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write the music for a new ballet based on the stories by the St. Petersburg Opera. With the help of iconic choreographer Marius Petipa who was later succeeded by his assistant, Lev Ivanov, the ballet was completed. The Nutcracker debuted in 1892 in the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia.

The Nutcracker was not performed outside of Russia until 1934 at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in England.  MARY DAY, a native of Washington, DC, co-founded the Washington School of Ballet in 1944 with her mentor Lisa Gardiner. In 1961, the Washington School of Ballet premiered Mary Day’s The Nutcracker with the National Symphony Orchestra in Constitution Hall, starting a long-running tradition of delighting audiences during the holidays. In 1976, Mary Day started The Washington Ballet, a professional company providing a showcase for the budding young talents of the Washington School of Ballet. The first season consisted of three works by up-and-coming dancer/choreographer Choo-San Goh from the Dutch National Ballet, who became Resident Choreographer and later Associate Artistic Director. Mary Day passed away in July 2006, leaving a large and meaningful legacy on the institution and the dance world at large. 

Olney Ballet Theatre's Artistic Director, PATRICIA BERREND was a member of the internationally known Hamburg Ballet and a founding member of The Washington Ballet. As Associate Director of The Washington School of Ballet, Ms. Berrend served for 20 years as Répétiteur for Mary Day's popular The Nutcracker.


Long ago, in a faraway kingdom, the Rat Queen cast a spell on a beautiful Princess. The magician Drosselmeyer’s young nephew broke the spell. As revenge, the Rat Queen turned the nephew into a wooden Nutcracker. The ungrateful Princess just laughed. Now only the love of a beautiful young girl can break that spell. So... 


It is Christmas Eve and Clara and her brother Fritz eagerly prepare for the festivities at their parents’ annual Christmas celebration. As the guests arrive, Clara’s mysterious Godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer, enters with a set of dancing dolls and a special soldier for Clara that cracks nuts in his teeth, called a Nutcracker. Jealous of his sister’s present, Fritz seizes the Nutcracker and breaks it. As the party ends, Clara sadly places the Nutcracker under the Christmas tree. Later that night, after everyone has gone to bed, Clara tiptoes downstairs to retrieve her Nutcracker. Suddenly, the room fills with mice. In her fright, Clara lies down, eventually falls asleep, and begins to dream. When the clock strikes midnight, the magic begins. The Christmas tree grows and the star on the top comes to life, waking Clara’s China Doll and Teddy Bear, who become life-size. A battle ensues between a brigade of Toy Soldiers, led by the Nutcracker, who has become life-size, and the mice, led by the Rat King. As the Rat King nears victory, Clara distracts him, enabling the Nutcracker to kill him. Suddenly, the Nutcracker is turned into a handsome Prince. He leads Clara through the enchanted Snow Forest to the Kingdom of Sweets. 


When Clara and the Nutcracker Prince arrive at the Kingdom of Sweets, they are welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier, and their attendants. When the Prince tells them how Clara saved his life, the Sugar Plum Fairy summons her subjects to entertain them with exotic dances from their homelands — a Spanish dance for chocolate, an Arabian dance for coffee, a Russian dance by candy canes, and a Chinese dance for tea — followed by a shepherd and his shepherdesses, Mother Gigogne and her children with Big Cook and his helper, and Flowers that waltz. The celebration comes to a spectacular climax when the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a grand pas de deux. Just before the curtain falls, Clara wakes up in her own living room, marking an end to her magical journey. 

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