Top 3 Versions of The Nutcracker

Top 3 Versions of The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is one of the three most famous ballets by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. All the year round, it is in the repertoire of almost all theaters in the world; and around Christmas and New Year's Eve, it can be seen on the playbills especially often. Anastasia Isaeva talks about the three most atmospheric versions of the production.

The Bolshoi Theater version by Yuri Grigorovich

Yuri Grigorovich - an author of many ballets, living classic and winner of different professional awards - staged The Nutcracker in the best traditions of the Bolshoi Theater. The spectacular design of the performance was created by the choreographer's associate, the artist Simon Virsaladze. 

Dancing of the soloists reflects Grigorovich's individual style - spectacular high lifts in duets, filigree technique, lightness and airiness in Masha's variations, as well as high jumps and pirouettes in the male dance. The dances of the second act are no less interesting, among them are: Spanish, Chinese, Arabian, etc. Each of them is memorable in its own way, and stylistic nuances create harmonious completeness. And finally, be sure to notice the choreography of the corps de ballet. The Waltz of the Snowflakes and the Waltz of the Flowers demonstrate original patterns and rearrangements, creating spectacular choreographic shapes. 

The unsurpassed music of Pyotr Tchaikovsky made this performance "eternal", and the choreography of Yuri Grigorovich - dynamic and exciting for both adults and children.

The Mariinsky Theater version by Mikhail Shemyakin

In 2021, the production turned 20 years old, during which time it was shown more than 150 times with a full house. Mikhail Shemyakin was the designer of sets and costumes, scriptwriter and director at the same time. Choreographer Kirill Simonov helped create the performance. His choreography differs from the classical interpretations in greater freedom of movements, dynamics, interesting poses and original solutions. For example, the Waltz of the Snowflakes here is a mixture of neoclassicism and modern dance, while the laws of classical ballet are ignored: ballerinas change positions of arms and legs not according to the generally accepted rules.

The performance is also distinguished by an extraordinary design: the Waltz of the Snowflakes, that we’ve just mentioned, in Mikhail Shemyakin's version, is performed by dancers in black suits on a dark stage. The main characters sometimes get lost among the giant kitchen utensils - such a contrast gives rise to peculiar visual series.  

All these features make the ballet special, very different from the traditional versions.  

The Mariinsky Theater version by Vasili Vainonen

As for Vasili Vainonen's version of The Nutcracker, it is the most classical of all the classical versions. That is why they often dance different pieces from this performance in choreographic schools and ballet academies. For the same reason, it can be recommended for the very first viewing. The more so because his Nutcracker, first staged in 1934, was resumed several times and can be seen on the playbills of many theaters to this day. 

In terms of the style and laws of construction, Vainonen's production is very similar to the works of Marius Petipa - a significant role is assigned to the corps de ballet with various choreographic patterns, the solo parts of the main characters are harmoniously built, from the adagio to the final pas de deux.