The Nutcracker

Holiday Re-Invention: What Leaders Learn from a “Failed” Ballet

December 18th, 2018  | 

Published in Uncategorized

Watching The Nutcracker in its various forms is an integral part of the holidays in America. These performances generate around 40% of annual ticket revenues for many major ballet companies. Not to mention the score of animated films, recorded performances and soundtracks the ballet has inspired. But success for the whimsical story proved a hard nut to crack.

Re-invention and The Nutcracker

  • 1892 – The Nutcracker premieres in Saint Petersburg in December 1892, but fails to capture the imagination of audiences. Over time, the 20-minute musical suite adapted from the score catches on.
  • 1940 – “The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” is brought to life in Disney’s full length animated film, Fantasia
  • 1954 – George Balanchine’s production draws on his childhood memories and love of Christmas, propelling the Nutcracker onto the center stage of American ballet production companies.

George Balanchine’s version of The Nutcracker became a staple of American ballet and has been embraced for its broad appeal and as a common introduction for new dancers. The ballet has also been adapted to include different styles of dance from hip hop to hula as dance companies seek to keep the traditional story relevant and fresh. Before you take your family to The Nutcracker this year, ask yourself:

  • It took 70 years for the entire ballet to catch on.  In a world defined by 90-day increments, how often do we consider the longer view?
  • How can I take what’s already working and bring it to life somewhere new?
  • George Balanchine drew from his childhood enthusiasm when creating the choreography for his production of The Nutcracker. How does inspiration influence our work?

To Get You in the Holiday Spirit

Top 15 Best Selling Toys in History
More on the History of the Nutcracker
Does Christmas Music Make Us Buy Less?
Optimism 101
Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 200 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents, and he coaches leaders inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book—Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) — is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.

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