Learn the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy!
It’s that time of year! It’s the season of chilly weather, great food, family, and of course, Nutcracker! This classic holiday ballet is just a must! If you’ve never been, I highly recommend you go check it out at your nearest ballet theater.
We are so excited to help you learn this version of the Sugar Plum Fairy! Our version is great for adult beginners, even if you haven’t been dancing for that long! If you’ve recently gotten onto pointe as an adult and started work off of the barre, this is a great level for you. You could even try it hanging onto the barre if you haven’t left the barre on pointe yet.
Enjoy our adult beginner ballet adaptation of this iconic and favorite variation.
History of the Nutcracker
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Nutcracker. Before we learn the variation, Let’s talk about some history…
We’ve all heard that iconic Sugar Plum music, but where does it come from? “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the early 1890s. Lev Ivanovich Ivanov and Marius Petipa are the mastermind choreographers behind the Sugar Plum Fairy’s gentle and carefree movements. When creating this piece, Petipa wanted the music for this fairy to resemble “drops of water shooting from a fountain”. Seems like he got just what he wanted! The Celsta was a recently invented instrument during the time and caught the attention of Tchaikovsky. This is what makes that signature Sugar Plum sound. The first ever Nutcracker performance was showcased at the Mariinksy Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 18th, 1892. Surprisingly, the ballet did not receive the best reviews. Some people loved it, and others hated it. Antonietta Dell'Era was the very first Sugar Plum fairy to take the stage. She had wonderful technique and received great reviews for her work. After this first show with all these mixed reviews, the Nutcracker ballet wasn’t really repeated too often until later in history when it became the ballet we all know and love today. When George Balanchine's The Nutcracker was televised in the late 1950s, interested for ballet grew, and more people began to enjoy it.
If you’d like to read more on this, there’s a great little article we found on Dance Advantage!
So… What’s Nutcracker even about?
The Westchester Ballet Company has written a beautiful summary. Let’s check it out!
“The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Although what is seen on the stage today is different in detail from the original story, the basic plot remains the same. The story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and his fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads.
It is Christmas Eve 1830, in the home of a European city official, President Stahlbaum. He and his wife and children, Clara and Fritz, welcome their guests to the annual Christmas party. The party grows festive with music and dance as Uncle Drosselmeyer, Clara’s godfather, arrives. Drosselmeyer is a skilled clockmaker and toy maker. He is a mysterious figure and when he first arrives he scares all the children except Clara and Fritz. Every Christmas, Drosselmeyer brings the children strange and wonderful toys. The mood of the party changes when he presents magnificent life-size dancing dolls. Clara asks her uncle if she can keep the dolls, but he has brought her something even better — a toy nutcracker. Clara loves the Nutcracker but Fritz is jealous and snatches the Nutcracker from Clara and breaks it. Uncle Drosselmeyer bandages the Nutcracker and Clara puts him to bed for the night.
The guests leave and all is quiet. Unable to sleep, Clara tiptoes downstairs to check on her beloved nutcracker doll. She falls asleep with the Nutcracker in her arms. Suddenly strange things begin to happen and large mice invade the room. Then, as the clock strikes midnight, Drosselmeyer returns, and, to Clara’s astonishment, he magically makes the Christmas tree grow high above her and brings the Nutcracker to life. The toy soldiers around the tree come alive while the room fills with an army of mice, led by the fierce Mouse King. The Nutcracker leads his army of toy soldiers into battle against the mice. After the Nutcracker has fallen and all hope seems lost, Clara kills the Mouse King with her shoe. Drosselmeyer reappears, and raises the Nutcracker, who is transformed into a handsome young prince. He invites Clara to journey with him to his real home- the Land of Sweets, the Kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy. They are guided on their way by the Winter Snows, who have been brought to life by the magic of Christmas.
Arriving in the Land of Sweets, Clara is welcomed by the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara’s most beautiful dreams come to life. The Nutcracker Prince tells the Sugar Plum Fairy about their daring battle with the army of mice and how Clara saved his life in his battle with the Mouse King. The Sugar Plum Fairy announces that a huge banquet shall be held in Clara’s honor where she is rewarded with a celebration of dances. From near and far, marvelous characters come to entertain her. When Clara thinks she has seen everything beautiful in the land, the Sugar Plum Fairy dances with her Cavalier. Soon the Land of Sweets begins to get hazy and Clara opens her eyes to find herself in the old armchair in her parents’ house, wondering if it was all a dream…”
Learn the Steps!
We created this video to help you follow along with our adult beginner Sugar Plum Fairy variation, and we had so much fun making it! Even if you’re just starting your ballet journey, this is a perfect little variation to help get you familiar with some of the classics. Here at Broche Ballet, we believe anyone and everyone can dance, even grownups! That’s why we’ve created this simplified yet super fun version of the Sugar Plum Fairy, so that we can include anyone who wishes to learn :)
Download the written follow-along
Download our 16-page PDF of detailed steps, counts, arm movements, vocabulary, and stage directions!
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Watch the whole video below! Feel free to leave us any questions or comments!
Upload a video of yourself dancing the variation to Instagram and tag us @brocheballet and @julietheballerina, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d LOVE to see it!
-The Broche Ballet team