2012 will mark the 37th annual production of The Nutcracker by the Jean Wolfmeyer Dance Company.
The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the book "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" written by E.T.A. Hoffman In 1891, the legendary choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Peter Tchaikovsky to write the music for the Nutcracker Ballet following the success of the Russian ballets Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky, choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and set designer Ivan Vsevolozhsky created what would become one of the best-loved ballets of all time.
In 1892, the first showing of the Nutcracker took place at the Marlinsky Theatre of Russia, home of the Kirov Ballet to mixed reviews. The Nutcracker made its way to western Europe in the 1930's and to America by 1940, performed by Ballet Russe. It wasn't until 1944 that an American ballet company performed the masterpiece. Choreographed by W. Christensen, the San Francisco Opera Ballet produced the first full-length American production, with Jocelyn Vollmar dancing as the Snow Queen.
George Balanchine, who grew up in Russia, danced the role of the Prince there in 1919 when he was 15 years old. Later, after he moved to America and founded the New York City Ballet, he choreographed his own version of The Nutcracker for his own company. The first performance of that production was in February of 1954. The Nutcracker has since become an annual Holiday tradition.