The Nutcracker opened in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersberg, with choreography by Lev Ivanov and music by Tchaikovsky,written by Marius Petipa and based on the story by ETA Hoffman's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
The story starts at the Stahlbaum's house where a Christmas party is taking place. The guests bring presents for the children Clara and Fritz and Herr Drosselmeyer gives Clara a wooden nutcracker doll. Drosselmeyer performs magic for the children and mechanical dolls dance to entertain them.
Once everyone is asleep Clara comes back downstairs to play with the doll but is frightened by life size mice and soldiers who appear and battle each other and the Nutcracker doll has turned into a Prince. Clara hits the mouse king on the head with her shoe and Clara and the Prince head to the Land of Snow, where they are surrounded by snowflakes.
In the Kingdom of Sweets they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, and they settle down to watch a series of dances. The Spanish dance (chocolate), an Arabian dance (coffee), Chinese Dance (tea) and a Russian Trepak (Candy Canes), followed by the dance of the Mirlitons.
The American productions also include Mother Ginger and an array of children (Polichelles) emerging from under her skirt!
Next comes the waltz of the flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy/Cavalier pas de duex.
Clara and the Prince return home and Clara wakes up on Christmas Day wondering if it was all a dream!