As performed by the North Atlanta Dance Theatre, circa 2006. The audio and video quality isn’t the greatest, but for my money this clip’s choreography best captures the scene as I remember it from my own childhood. And since this is dance, choreography wins.
The Mouse King gets to ham it up a lot, and is pretty entertaining.
I’m more than a little disappointed that here in Toronto, the National Ballet of Canada is still cranking out James Kudelka’s bowdlerised version which replaces the “tin soldiers versus mice” battle for one where cat archers fight mouse archers. It’s not entirely clear to me why Kudelka needed to have the toy soldiers excised; E.T.A. Hoffman’s original story (upon which the ballet is based) is called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. It’s what you might call a key plot point.
Keeping the story but modernising the costumes—bringing them up to contemporary times, as many artistic directors love to do with Shakespeare—would probably have been a non-starter. If that course had been taken, then the title character would look like… well, like that image to the right. And one can imagine how many parents might get the vapours if kids onstage were dressed in ACUs. Still, it’s a shame to fundamentally alter key scenes just because one deems 19th century toy soldiers less relevant than cats and mice; such is the anemic cultural memory of our times. It is not as if kids have stopped playing at war; the average kid has probably played a half-dozen Battlefield or Call of Duty games on their gaming consoles.
Oh, and because you may find it useful this Christmas season: