The Nutcracker Redux

Like it was for hundreds of other families, the Nutcracker was always a holiday fixture for us Hoveys. We went to see it every year when the Kansas City Ballet put on their production. When I hit six, mom had me training there (it had become the State Ballet of Missouri, an odd unnecessary name change I never understood) and my best friends and I got to dance in that beloved Christmas ballet as soldiers, angels and members of the party scene. (I fittingly, was a soldier two years in a row). 

Of all the fun scenes, nothing gave me chills of excitement like the when the men came out in their flowing Cossack pants and danced the ballet version of the classic Hopak in the candy scene. Even as a kid, I couldn't imagine human thigh muscles performing in that manner. 

But what I saw then was nothing next to this. Ignore the politics of Reds and Russia today and just try to stop smiling at the Red Army Dance Ensemble's unimaginable moves. And just wait for the accordion...

(For more, pop over to the wonderful British Pathe collection to see the 1936 ensemble dance the Kanava and another batch performing at the Albert Hall in 1963