Illustrations by Cathy Gendron
Every December, The Nutcracker comes to life in theaters all across the United States. But how did this 19th-century Russian ballet become such a big part of the holidays in 21st-century America?
Meet Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, three small-town Utah boys who caught the ballet bug from an uncle in the early 1900s. They performed alongside elephants and clowns on vaudeville, immersed themselves in the New York City dance scene, and even put on a ballet featuring gangsters at a gas station. Russian immigrants shared the story of The Nutcracker with them, and during World War II – on a shoestring budget and in need of a hit – they staged their own Christmastime production in San Francisco. It was America’s first full-length version and the beginning of a delightful holiday tradition.
For all ages