The Nutcracker

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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Dance Video Clips

Arabian and Chinese Dances from The Nutcracker



In the introduction, host David Thurmond shows a pair of point shoes and explains how they enable a ballerina to dance on her toes. He tells students to compare the tempo, mood, and energy in the two dances. He also notes that these are not authentic representations of the two cultures, but were included in the ballet as entertainments and to showcase dancers’ skills. The performance shows the Arabian and Chinese dances from The Nutcracker, a holiday favorite that debuted in 1892. Performed to music by Tchaikovsky and based on the book The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman, it’s the story of a young girl named Clara who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King. The Arabian and Chinese dances are from the second act, in which the Prince takes Clara to the Land of Sweets, where she is entertained by a celebration of dances. This performance was choreographed by Xi Jun Fu of Kentucky Ballet Theatre and features Rebecca Ratliff as the Arabian dancer and Christine Elmo as the Chinese dancer.

Suggested Uses:

  • As the focus of a student analysis of dance elements and theme (with Responding to Dance).
  • As an example of sharp and smooth movements.
  • Compare to examples of modern and/or jazz dance in the toolkit.
  • Compare to another “character dance” in the toolkit, “Lucky Day” on Dance Performances.
  • To demonstrate and explore characteristics of ballet. (Show DanceSense Program 7, “Helen Starr” on the DanceSense Enhanced DVD, and/or “Dance Vocabulary/Basic Positions” on the DanceSense Enhanced DVD.

Lesson plans using this resource:

For more information:

(These links may leave the Arts Toolkit.)

See the History and Styles and Responding to Dance sections of the Dance Arts Toolkit binder.

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