Boston, Mass – Apparently, this is the year we turn our children into culture vultures. We have had some success with the symphony and musical theater, and so we decided to see what they think of the ballet. Not just any ballet… The Nutcracker (of course).
This Tchaikovsky ballet holds a special place in my heart. Daddio and I went to see the National Ballet perform the Nutcracker on our first proper date (not counting the zoo). We sat in the second row. It was magic. It could be one of the reasons I married him.
We have since seen the Nutcracker many times, as it’s always on the playbill at Russian theaters (even in summer), so I’ve never felt the need to see it in Boston. But we decided the twins might be ready for this fantastical tale of mouse kings and toy soldiers and dancing snow flakes and sugar plum fairies.
This was our strategy:
- We bought the best tickets that we could (which ended up being Row G) to make sure the twins would be able to see. We got these through some promotion, which is crucial, as the Boston Ballet is expensive! We also went to a midweek matinee, which helps. (I’m not sure if the tickets were cheaper, but there were definitely better seats available.)
- We bought this book by Susan Jeffers, so the twins would be familiar with the story and understand exactly what was going on. Jeffers wrote this book explicitly as a “companion guide” for young children on their way to the theater, so it does not include the sections of the story that are also left out of the ballet. The original story by ETA Hoffman (with amazing illustrations by Maurice Sendak!) looks incredible for older kids, but it’s longer and it’s not exactly the same plot line as the ballet.
- We also watched the Boston Ballet trailer several times. I think this helped to give the twins an idea about what they are going to see. The concept of a show with no talking was hard for them to comprehend before it started.
So… how was it?
It was magic.
Not since that first date with Daddio have I been so enthralled with the Nutcracker. Seeing this old favorite through the eyes of my four-year-olds injected it with so much mystery and wonder, it was like the first time all over again.
Not that the twins didn’t get antsy. They did. That second act drags for kids (and perhaps some others, ahem, Daddio). As lovely as it is to see the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker Prince dance together, it’s not exactly the kind of thing that keeps the attention of the little guys.
But there is plenty to keep their attention and captivate their imaginations. Here were the highlights for our family:
Twin V: the Battle Scene between the mice and the toy soldiers
Twin S: the Snow Scene, with sparkly snow falling from the ceiling
Me: the sensual Arabian dance (ooh la la)
Daddio: all of the above
It was an expensive outing, but it was definitely worth it. And I’ll even venture to say that we may have a new holiday tradition in our family.