When I was a little girl, wrapping Christmas presents usually involved listening to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky‘s The Nutcracker. As I got older, this morphed into watching Macaulay Culkin in the 1993 New York City Ballet’s production of the ballet. Finally when I was first married, my husband took me to see the ballet in person at the Kravis Center. It has become an Advent season tradition in our family. And, perhaps, it should become yours too.
The Ballet has a simple enough story. A little girl (most versions say her name is Maria, though some use the name Clara) and her younger brother Fritz are hosting a Christmas Eve party. The adults dance, the children dance and everyone is very happy. Then the young girl’s godfather Drosselmeyer arrives at the party. He has presents for everyone. After handing them out, the children play with his toys. The best of course is Maria’s. It is a nutcracker. Her younger brother breaks the nutcracker, and the children go to bed very distraught over this. During the course of the night the mice come out to play. Maria and the Nutcracker defeat the mouse king. Then they head to the land of sweets. In some versions when Maria wakes up her godfather’s nephew (a prince!) arrives and oddly enough he loves her and looks just like the nutcracker.
Its a simple enough plot, and usually the way many families introduce their children to ballet. The first time we watched The Nutcracker with my daughter, she spent the next three days dancing around the house. And she was 2!
The Kravis Center
(The Nutcracker will also be performed at the Kings Academy – December 13-16)
The Kravis Center is a fine arts venue located in West Palm Beach. The beautiful building is the brain child of architects and artists of the 1960s, though it was not open to the public until 1992. But what an opening! They had an orchestra! Ella Fitzgerald, Burt Reynolds, not to mention one of the largest foreign press corps ever! It sounds amazing, right? What I find remarkable about the Kravis Center is that it reminds me of something old world. As you know much of what is our beloved Palm Beach County is a result of economic booms of the 1920s, 1950s and today. But when looking down on the stage from the very back of the hall, one can feel like someone out of Downton Abbey or a Dickens novel. If ballet isn’t your thing, no worries, they also have plays, musicals, comedies and guest singers.
Everyone wants to create lovely memories with their children. We usually take our children to a matinee, since evenings are usually for couples or families with children older than seven. The usual dress code for matinee performances are business casual. The evenings are usually cocktail attire. I love my yoga pants as much as the next mom, but truthfully, its nice to see families all dressed up, taking pictures by the Christmas tree in the lobby. Every time we go, I convince my husband to purchase another nutcracker from the kiosk in the lobby. And every time we go home at night after an afternoon at the ballet, I can’t help but imagine he comes to life after we’ve all gone to sleep. It’s a memory I love, and one I hope that my children will remember when they are grown and starting their own families.
Have you taken your children to The Kravis Center for any holiday performances? For tickets to this year’s Nutcracker performances at both the Kravis Center and Kings Academy, visit Ballet Palm Beach website.