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Photo by Lynn Lane

“Nutcracker” Story Celebrates 200th Anniversary at the Wynne Home

by Emily S. Binetti

Huntsville, Texas will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the E.T.A. Hoffman story behind the favorite Christmas ballet at the historic Wynne Home on Dec. 6 -10, 2016.


The original story behind the ballet, entitled “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, was written by Hoffman in 1816 and takes place in Germany in the home of the Stahlbaum Family.  In the Hoffman story, the daughter, Marie (Clara, in some versions) Stahlbaum, receives a special gift of a Nutcracker who comes to life as a prince and defeats an evil Mouse King before he transports Marie to a magical kingdom.


In 1844, Alexandre Dumas (pere), French writer of “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”, adapted the story and called it “Story of a Nutcracker” (Histoire d’un casse-noisette).   It was this version that was then used as the libretto for the familiar two-act “Nutcracker” ballet with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.  The ballet debuted at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 18, 1892.


The beautifully restored 19th Century Wynne Home and Arts Center in Huntsville, provides the setting for the Nicolay Danceworks site-specific production of the “The Nutcracker”.  Choreographed by Dana Nicolay, “A Wynne Home Nutcracker” is as an interactive experience for small audience groups who will be welcomed into the parlor of the Victorian home, where the family is decorating the tree for a Christmas party.  The guests will experience the story as it unfolds throughout the setting along with the Stahlbaum parents, Marie and her incorrigible brother Fritz, their mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, and the other characters from the story.

“Unlike the traditional setting of a performance space, in this unique production audiences will be surrounded by the dance rather than sitting outside the performance,” explained Nicolay.

Moving throughout the historic home from room to room and even outdoors on the grounds of the Arts Center, audiences will partake in the magical world of the Nutcracker story, from helping to trim the Stahlbaum family tree to witnessing the climactic battle of the Mouse King and Nutcracker.

The characters will be portrayed by dancers from Nicolay Danceworks, all of whom are current students or alumni of the SHSU Department of Dance.  A total of 20 Nicolay Dance Works dancers in each performance, will portray the enchanting, colorful characters that make up the Nutcracker holiday experience including the Stahlbaum family, Drosselmeyer, The Cavalier, Dancing Snowflakes, Sugar Plum Fairies, and many more.

“A Wynne Home Nutcracker” is funded in part by the City of Huntsville Arts Commission.  Four performances, approximately 40 minutes in length, will take place each evening starting at 6:00 p.m. with the final performance each evening beginning at 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance online at www.nicolaydanceworks.com.

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