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December 16, 2020

Classroom resource: After ‘Nutcracker’ cancellations, dance companies get creative

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video featuring reporting by Jeffrey Brown and answer the discussion questions. To read a transcript of the video, click here

Summary: “The Nutcracker” is a beloved tradition for the holiday season, but it’s also vital to the financial well-being of ballet companies all over the country. But with this year’s pandemic closures, dance companies everywhere face an enormous threat.

  • “The Nutcracker” has been performed in the U.S. since renowned choreographer George Balanchine introduced it from Russia in the 1950s.
  • This year, some ballet companies are performing “The Nutcracker” streaming online as a way to keep the tradition alive and raise revenues to keep stages from closing.

Discussion:

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is this story about?
  • What is “The Nutcracker” and how did it become a holiday tradition?
  • Where and when is “The Nutcracker” being performed this year, and how?
  • Why is COVID-19 threatening so many arts institutions?
  • How has “The Nutcracker” helped introduce ballet to new audiences?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus questions:

  1. Do you have a family tradition of seeing a performance or visiting a cultural institution (or even a favorite activity, including eating out) around the holidays that won’t be possible this year? If so, what are some creative ways you can substitute it with a new experience or tradition?
  2. What are some arts organizations, businesses or people who are struggling this season because of closures? What are some ways your community can support these individuals?

Media literacy: Why do you think this piece was recorded? What do you think the journalist who developed this story was hoping viewers would take away?

Additional resources:

Watch this video to see how “The Nutcracker” has been reinterpreted in recent years. Ask your students: How would you reimagine classics like “The Nutcracker” to fit into a contemporary setting?:

  • Use this lesson about how the music industry is working to save itself during the pandemic.
  • Check out this story on Dolly Parton and how one performing artist is giving back this year.

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