Little girls and ballet… little girls and tea parties… and at Christmastime, little girls and Nutcracker. When my daughter first started dancing in a local production of Nutcracker, I could not resist planning a Nutcracker tea party to celebrate her hard work and performances with her dancing friends and their moms. So I did, and they came, and we had a lovely afternoon.
E.T.A. Hoffmann’s original Nutcracker story involves a battle royale between an enchanted Nutcracker aided by his toy soldier Hussars, and an evil seven-headed Rat King and his mice henchmen. Marie, the young ingenue, sacrifices her sugar doll collection to the Rat King to save her magical Nutcracker, who is really a bewitched (and handsome) Prince. With her help, Nutcracker is able to vanquish the Rat King, return to his original form, and woo Marie. So, Nutcracker, as it’s originally written, is really a coming of age story about a young girl learning to stand up for those she loves. (The Kirov Ballet is most faithful to this version of the story – their Marie ultimately grows up and accepts the marriage proposal of her Prince. Most of the other ballet productions seen are similar to the Balanchine version, in which Marie wakes up to find that her escapades with her Nutcracker Prince are just a dream – most unsatisfying!)
But my point to all this, is that the Nutcracker ballet stories are filled with references to food: the Nutcracker and nuts, French shepherdesses – merlitons – and marzipan, Arabian dancers and coffee, Russian Cossacks and chocolate, Spanish dancers and spices, Chinese dancers and tea, the Sugar Plum fairy, Mother Ginger and the gingerbread cookies, the Land of Sweets, Lemonade River…
So, planning a Nutcracker Tea Party is pretty easy, if maybe a little indulgent with the sweets!