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Bolshoi in Cinema: The Nutcracker

Christmas traditions come in many shapes and sizes, from baubles and greenery bedecking our houses to music and religious rites. Not the least of the annual rituals is watching beloved performances.

Oddly, some of these now-hallowed performances share a common history—they were originally flops.

Viewers of a certain age cherish It’s a Wonderful Life, the 1940s morality tale, while a somewhat young generation awaits with relish the irreverent A Christmas Story, but both movies took decades to be fully absorbed into the holiday vernacular.

Perhaps most astounding is the realization that Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, now performed by every dance troupe, large and small, was not embraced when first staged on December 18th, 1892, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Antonietta Dell’Era, as the Sugar Plum Fairy, was criticized for being “corpulent” and “podgy” and Olga Preobrajenskaya, as the Columbine doll, was panned as “completely insipid.”

Like the classic movies, the ballet survived its rocky beginning and, since the 1960s, has been performed by countless ballet companies during the Christmas season. Major American ballet companies generate around 40 percent of their annual ticket revenues from performances of The Nutcracker.

Not to be outdone, the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia has its own classic version, which for the seventh consecutive year will be screened in 1,600 cinemas internationally. Locally, it will be shown December 17th at 12:55PM at the Millerton Moviehouse.

The Moviehouse has long been a participant in a growing trend has allows patrons to enjoy the arts through cinema. Opera and ballet companies, including the Bolshoi, whose entire season will be screened at the Moviehouse on dates between December and June, have experienced huge success, competing successfully with Hollywood blockbusters.

General tickets are $21, Gold Members, $16, and children, $11.