Nutcracker

With Christmas time, as one writer said in The New York Times, comes "Nutcracker" time.

There are probably more than a dozen professional productions of The Nutcracker here in California alone. And who's to say how many local school and amateur productions there are, such as the truly delightful one I saw at the Berkeley Ballet Theater?

In Seattle, the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs The Nutcracker to that same ubiquitous Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky score. The ballet tells the story of Clara, a young girl whose grandfather gives her a nutcracker at a party. One night, Clara goes searching for her nutcracker and walks right into a battle between a regiment of toy soldiers and a wily team of oversized rodents.

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Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Here is a holiday tradition that seems as old as Christmas trees and mistletoe.

(SOUNDBITE OF PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY SONG, "NUTCRACKER OVERTURE")

Liz Garza Williams

When Akiko Fujimoto took over the helm of conducting the annual San Antonio Symphony performances of "The Nutcracker" in 2012, she had never conducted a ballet before.

"I knew that it was a completely different genre of conducting," Fujimoto says. She turned to a colleague that's been conducting Tchaikovsky's score for years, Boston Ballet's Music Director, Jonathan McPhee. "He said to watch out [because] how dancers interpret tempo is different than how musicians talk about tempo. We opened the score, and we went through everything page by page."

Alexander Devora

Around the world this month, ballet companies are enjoying their own version of Black Friday, staging "The Nutcracker." The holiday tradition is the key to financial stability for any company, and here in San Antonio, things are no different.

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