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Fun Facts About the Nutcracker Ballet

A Peek Inside New York City Ballet's Annual Tradition


To many families, the New York City Ballet's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker is an annual tradition. The first performance of the popular production was in February 1954 in New York City. It was the creation of this ballet by Balanchine for the New York City Ballet that began the tradition of celebrating the Christmas holidays with performances of the enchanting ballet.

The New York City Ballet usually presents around 50 performances of The Nutcracker Ballet each year. Here are a few fun facts about the New York City Ballet's Nutcracker performance.

  • A total of 57 people work backstage to coordinate the scenery, lighting, and costumes during each performance.
  • During each performane, 150 costumes will appear onstage.
  • Between 600 and 700 lighting instruments are used in the stage lighting for the production.
  • The Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu contains 7 layers of tulle.
  • The giant Christmas tree grows to a full height of 41 feet, weighing in at 1 ton.
  • The Dewdrop’s costume is embellished with 65 crystal "dewdrops."
  • A total of 62 musicians play in the orchestra during each performance.
  • The metal-framed skirt of Mother Ginger weighs 40 pounds.
  • The music for the Coffee dance is based on the melody of a Georgian lullaby.
  • Approximately 50 pounds of paper confetti falls onto the stage creating the snowstorm.
  • Each Candy Cane costume contains 144 jingle bells.
  • Most of the scenery in the production is painted fabric.
  • The special instrument we hear during the Sugar Plum Fairy’s solo is called a celesta.
  • The only costumes still used from the original 1954 production are the Grandmother’s cape and the embroidered appliqués on the female’s costumes during the Tea dance.
  • The music for the violin solo during the change of scenery in Act I is taken from another of Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores, The Sleeping Beauty.
  • The bodices of the dresses worn by the women in the Hot Chocolate dance are decorated with small cameo pictures of New York City Ballet founders Lincoln Kirstein and George Balanchine.
  • Source:New York City Ballet

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