THE HARD NUT
Based on Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann
Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Mark Morris Dance Group
Mark Morris, Choreography
Adrianne Lobel, Set Design
Martin Pakledinaz, Costume Design
James F. Ingalls, Lighting Design
Production based on the work of Charles Burns
A production of Thirteen/WNET with NVC ARTS
in association with RTP, Portugal and YLE, Finland
From the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Belgium
Original broadcast: Great Performances:
Dance in America on PBS
THE HARD NUT (87:03)
ACT I ACT II
Overture/Mark Morris Introduces Act I (2:28) Intermission/Mark Morris Introduces Act II (1:47)
The Children Watch TV (2:40) Drosselmeier Begins to Tell Marie the Story of the Hard Nut (2:11)
Party Preparations (1:25) The Curse (5:30)
Arrival of the Guests (6:23) Spanish Dance (1:22)
Gift Giving (2:48) Chinese Dance (1:04)
The Party Continues (1:25) Russian Dance (1:20)
Drosselmeier Presents the Nutcracker (2:09) French Dance (2:22)
Marie Dances with the Nutcracker/Guests Sing Christmas Carols (1:56) Drosselmeier Finds the Nut (:54)
Guests Dance the Bump (1:45) The Curse Is Lifted (1:41)
The Party Concludes (2:16) Waltz of the Flowers (7:00)
Marie Returns to the Living Room (1:12) The World Celebrates the Love of Marie and Young Drosselmeier (4:54)
Invasion of the Rats (1:13) Marie and Young Drosselmeier Dance Together (2:49)
The Transformation (3:04) The Gala (1:25)
The Battle (3:04) The Lovers Unite (3:29)
The Nutcracker Transformed into Young Drosselmeier (1:14) Louise and Fritz Are Sent to Bed (1:19)
Duet of Drosselmeier and Young Drosselmeier (2:53) Bows and Credits (3:25)
Waltz of the Snowﬂakes (6:15)
THE HARD NUT by Mark Morris
The Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels is Belgium’s Royal Opera House. I worked As Act II begins, Marie is still recovering from the battle, and Drosselmeier tells her the
with my company there for three years and one of the dances I made up was a version story of the Hard Nut:
of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker that I call The Hard Nut. In many Nutcrackers the story
Once upon a time there was a king and a queen. They look a lot like Marie’s parents,
is presented in a charming, adorable way because that’s what adults think children
and they had a beautiful baby daughter, Princess Pirlipat. But the queen of the rats
will like. But most kids would rather see something scary and that’s what the story of
sneaks into the baby’s carriage and bites her, placing a curse on her that makes her
The Nutcracker was in the original E.T.A. Hoffmann tale.
hideously ugly. The only way to remove the curse, the rat queen says, is to ﬁnd the
The Hard Nut sticks close to the Hoffmann story, with the scary parts left in. The idea magic nut, which a young man must crack with his teeth. The king demands Drosselmeier
for the production came from Charles Burns, a great horror-comic artist. Burns’s search for the nut. Drosselmeier travels all over the world looking for it. Finally he gives
world is not the cozy 19th-century of most Nutcrackers; it’s the world of the 1960s and up and goes home and—voila!—he ﬁnds it there.
’70s, the time when he and I were growing up. The people in this ballet don’t wear frock
The big day comes. Several young men try to crack the nut and fail. Then Drosselmeier’s
coats, they wear bell bottoms, and everything is ﬂat and bold and clear like a comic book.
handsome, young nephew tries, and he succeeds, but in the process he steps on the
As the curtain opens, little Marie, her older sister Louise, and her younger brother Fritz rat queen and kills her, with the result that a curse falls on him. Just as Pirlipat is
are waiting for the start of the family Christmas party. The guests arrive including becoming beautiful again the nephew becomes ugly like a nutcracker, and Pirlipat wants
Drosselmeier, a family friend, who brings toys for the children: a Barbie doll, a robot, no part of him.
and a nutcracker. Marie loves the nutcracker, but Fritz breaks it. After the party, around
At this point Marie takes matters into her own hands and stops the story. She offers her
midnight, Marie sneaks down to the living room to check on her nutcracker. Suddenly
love to Drosselmeier’s nephew. To celebrate Marie’s budding womanhood her mother
everything in the room becomes giant and there’s a war between the rats, led by their
leads the plant world in the “Waltz of the Flowers.” At the end, Marie and her new boyfriend
king, and Fritz’s G.I. Joes, led by the nutcracker. Marie kills the Rat King with her slipper
dance together and everybody joins in.
and so the nutcracker wins and is transformed into a beautiful young man.
This is a love story between two people but it’s also about the love that’s already in the
Meanwhile, Marie has fainted. Drosselmeier returns to tuck her in, then walks home
world. In other words, you can search and search for the thing you want, and then you
through a snowstorm. In most Nutcrackers, the “Waltz of the Snowﬂakes” is danced
ﬁnd it waiting for you back home. You just didn’t recognize it before. You had to grow up.
by women. In this ballet, nature means everyone, women and men.
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY was born in 1840 and began his career as a civil member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2006, Morris received the
servant. In 1862, he gave up his job and enrolled at the St. Petersburg conservatory. New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and
He was offered the Professorship of Harmony at the newly opened Moscow conservatory a WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award. He is the subject of a biography by
in 1866. After the success of his ﬁrst piano concerto he began a correspondence with Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume
Nadezhda von Meck, a wealthy widow, whose ﬁnancial support enabled him to devote of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il
himself to composition. They remained correspondents until a misunderstanding in 1890 Moderato: A Celebration. In 2007, he received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance
ended their relationship, but they never actually met. Tchaikovsky had a disastrous marriage Festival lifetime achievement award.
in 1877, possibly in an attempt to conceal his homosexuality; a separation followed an
MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP was formed in 1980 and gave its ﬁrst concert that year in
attempted suicide after only 11 weeks of marriage. Despite his subsequent depressions
New York City. The company’s touring schedule steadily expanded to include cities both in the
he managed to produce his most successful opera, Eugene Onegin (1877–78), his Fourth
U.S. and in Europe, and in 1986 it made its ﬁrst national television program for the PBS
Symphony (1878), and his Violin Concerto (1878) during this period. In 1881, he gave up
series Dance in America. In 1988, MMDG was invited to become the national dance company
teaching at the conservatory and for the next seven years was deeply involved in composition.
of Belgium, and spent three years in residence at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in
He contracted cholera after imprudently drinking unboiled water and died in St. Petersburg,
Brussels. The company returned to the United States in 1991 as one of the world’s leading
soon after the ﬁrst performance of his Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique), in 1893.
dance companies, performing across the U.S. and at major international festivals. It has
MARK MORRIS was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied maintained and strengthened its ties to several cities around the world, most notably its
as a young man with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, west coast home, Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA. It appears regularly in Boston, MA;
he performed with Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, and the Koleda Urbana, IL; Fairfax, VA; Seattle, WA; and at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, MA.
Balkan Dance Ensemble. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, and has MMDG made its debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival in 2002 and at the Tanglewood Music
since created more than 120 works for the company. From 1988–91, he was Director Festival in 2003 and has since been invited to both festivals annually. The company’s London
of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of seasons have garnered two Laurence Olivier Awards. MMDG is noted for its commitment to
Belgium. Among the works created during his tenure were three evening-length dances: live music, a feature of every performance on its full international touring schedule since
The Hard Nut; L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; and Dido and Aeneas. In 1990, he 1996. The company collaborates with leading orchestras, opera companies, and musicians
founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Morris is also much in including cellist Yo-Yo Ma in the Emmy Award-winning ﬁlm Falling Down Stairs (1997); Indian
demand as a ballet choreographer. He has created six works for the San Francisco Ballet composer Zakir Hussain, Mr. Ma, and jazz pianist Ethan Iverson in Kolam (2002); The Bad
since 1994 and received commissions from American Ballet Theatre and the Boston Plus in Violet Cavern (2004); pianists Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nozaki for Mozart Dances
Ballet, among others. His work is also in the repertory of the Paciﬁc Northwest Ballet, (2006); and with the English National Opera in Four Saints in Three Acts (2000) and King
Dutch National Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Houston Ballet, English National Ballet, Arthur (2006), among others. MMDG’s ﬁlm and television projects also include Dido and
and The Royal Ballet. Morris is noted for his musicality and has been described as Aeneas, The Hard Nut, and two documentaries for the U.K.’s South Bank Show. In fall 2001,
“undeviating in his devotion to music.” He has worked extensively in opera, directing MMDG opened the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY, the company’s ﬁrst permanent
and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English headquarters in the U.S., housing rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach
National Opera, and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Morris was named a Fellow of the programs for local children, as well as a school offering dance classes to students of all ages.
MacArthur Foundation in 1991, is the recipient of eight honorary doctorates, and is a For more information, visit www.mmdg.org.