NYCB in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, photo by Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

For so many dancers, The Nutcracker is how they get their first glimpse of the ballet world. And for audiences who flock to the theater year after year to see their favorite version, it always somehow manages to keep its magical quality.

Today, Lincoln Center will bring a little of that holiday magic to approximately 400,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, with a broadcast of New York City Ballet's George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The production was originally released as part of the new Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance series (which also brought performances by San Francisco Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ballet Hispanico to the big screen this year).

Now, it will be broadcast via the American Forces Network to military bases all over the world—everywhere from Afghanistan and Iraq to the Philippines and Japan—and on Naval ships outside U.S. waters. The film will feature a behind-the-scenes segment and online interactive guide in addition to the performance, and will bring some comfort and seasonal spirit to those who are far away from home.

Sometimes we forget how much our performances mean to people. Next time you feel like you can’t possibly dance the snow scene one more time, it's worth thinking about the people you're bringing joy to every time you step onstage. Happy holidays!

 

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Rudolf Nureyev and Merle Park in "The Nutcracker" (1968). Photo by Donald Southern, Courtesy of the Royal Opera House Collections.

Given the thousands of incarnations The Nutcracker has undergone—from tiny-tot productions in small-town studios to grand modern classics—the ballet's Grand Pas de Deux from Act II has remained remarkably intact. With slight variations, most professional dancers have seen its familiar choreography at some point or another. Tchaikovsky's radiant score calls to mind elegant promenades, partnered penchées and slow, supported développés.

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