How Long is The Nutcracker Ballet?

how long is the nutcracker ballet

Assuming that you or you and your family are considering attending the spectacular holiday classic The Nutcracker, you might want to learn a bit about the production, including how long you’ll be sedentary! While you’ll be enthralled and enjoying every detailed moment of this dreamlike, ethereal ballet, be prepared to have your eyes glued to the stage for around two hours (with an intermission, of course!).  Some Nutcrackers are abridged, but usually this ballet lasts quite a while—for good reason!  Each Nutcracker consists of two wonderful acts explained here.

Act One

The Party Scene: The Nutcracker begins as Clara Stahlbaum’s family is throwing a Christmas party.  Many of Clara’s friends and their families come to this event and everyone dances.  Everyone is excited when Drosselmeyer, Clara’s eccentric uncle, arrives with dancing dolls.  He gives Clara a beautiful Nutcracker; however, Clara’s naughty brother soon snatches the doll away from his sister and breaks it.  Clara is upset so Drosselmeyer fixes the toy with a handkerchief.

After the guests leave, Clara sneaks back to the Christmas tree to check on her new Nutcracker and falls fast asleep there.

The Battle Scene: Clara awakens to the sound of mice scurrying around the room as strange things begin to happen.  The Christmas tree begins to grow and toys around the tree come to life to fight off the army of mice, led by the giant Mouse King. Clara watches in terrified awe as her Nutcracker comes to life to fight the Mouse King.  The Nutcracker begins to lose strength and Clara, terrified, throws her shoe at the Mouse King’s head, giving the Nutcracker an advantage and allowing him to win the fight.  The mice leave, dragging their leader’s body away with them.

The Land of Snow: The Nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince and takes Clara to The Land of Snow, an enchanted forest where they are welcomed by a host of dancing snowflakes.

Act Two

Clara and the Prince ride a large sleigh to The Land of the Sweets and are greeted by the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and her Angels.  The Prince tells the Fairy, as well as all of the Sweets of the kingdom, about the battle with the mice.  The Sugar Plum Fairy rewards Clara and the Prince for their courage with a series of dances by:

  • Spanish Hot Chocolate
  • Arabian Coffee
  • The Russian Trepak (Sometimes Candy Canes)
  • Chinese Tea
  • French Marzipans
  • The Waltz of the Flowers and the Dewdrop Fairy

After all these Sweets have performed, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a romantic Pas De Deux.

Epilogue: Clara awakens by her Christmas tree with her Nutcracker and wonders if everything was real or a dream.

The Nutcracker: Beautiful at Any Length

The Nutcracker is well worth its length; however, if you’re craving a shorter production, some companies do abridged versions of the ballet.  Regardless of the version that you attend, you can be assured that you’re in for a treat!

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