Disney has come out with a new film called Nutcracker and the Four Realms which is of course based on the famous ballet originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with the famous scored by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Christmas is a great time to rediscover some famous ballets. There are plenty to choose from, but we’ve put together a list of some of the best ballets to get into the Christmas spirit.
Cinderella a classical tale first published in Italy by Giambattista Basile, and popularized by the Brothers Grimm, is one of the most popular stories ever written. It is about a down-and-out girl who is abused by her stepmother and stepsisters until a prince sweeps her away– every girl’s dream. Many writers have tried their hands at the story, including a popular Disney version. Classical Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, probably best known, again thanks to Disney for Peter and the Wolf – composed the score using his trademark whimsical music with more dramatic elements. Cinderella is one of the fairy tales that is timeless and is based down through generations because of its rags to riches story.
This ballet is another classic that has gained popularity since the movie Black Swan. The ballet has solidified its place as the most famous ballet of all times, well deserved for this dramatic love story accompanied by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky music. With floating melodies and atmospheric notes, once again Tchaikovsky displays his brilliance. It pulls the audience right into the emotions between Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette.
Hansel & Gretel
Around Christmas, this ballet gives children a chance to enter a fantasy world full of candy and sugar. Originally a well-known German fairy tale, the music was scored by Edward Grieg, a Norwegian composer, and paints who is widely considered to be one of the leading Romantic era composures. It was also turned into an opera by Engelbert Humperdinck and his sister, Adelheid Wette.
The Sleeping Beauty
This is another story by Italian Giambattista Basile and popularized by the Brothers Grimm. Every child knows the story of how Princess Aurora is released from her curse by a loving prince. Therefore, it is no surprise that the fairy tale inspired a magical ballet written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Written in two parts, it evolved all the classical elements of a timeless production.
Romeo and Juliet
Touching generations for 400 years, the haunting love story of Romeo and Juliet gave Sergei Prokofiev the inspiration for this ballet. First produced under the harsh Soviet sensors, it has since become a classic. Prokofiev’s music telling of the two star-crossed lovers has the audience on a rollercoaster of feelings, heating up their hearts and bringing them closer to each other in this cold and wintery season.
Even if you’re not a ballet aficionado, you know about the Nutcracker. Modern audiences would be surprised to learn that the original performance wasn’t a success. However, the 20-minute suite that has been parodied in many films and television shows, was an instant classic. Since the late 60s, the Nutcracker has become one of the most famous compositions of all time. Among other things, the score is noted for its novel and famous use of the celesta, a type of keyboard similar to an upright piano.
Based on a fairy tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, it is set during Christmas Eve and is the perfect Christmas story. It captivates the viewer with folk dances from around the world and is perfectly suitable for even the youngest ballet fans.
Christmas is the time for ballet. No other period of the year is that strongly related to fairy tales than this one, and no other genre bases its storylines that much on fairy tales than classical ballet. In this cold season where thoughts naturally wander through dark and foggy woods, ballet is the perfect stage for strange and mythical stories to unfold.