Innovation Or The Nutcracker: What Do You Want to Create

This past weekend, Laurie and I had plans to go see the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. She has a list of things she’s always wanted to do in New York City, and this is on it. So that means I’m dragged along.

The Nutcracker felt more like a checklist experience than something spectacular. Works for the ballet, but not a great goal for business.

That’s okay, right, as it’s an iconic ballet and people go in droves every year. This meant it would be great, so I thought. Plus, I enjoy theater so as long as the ballet was going to tell a story, I could probably find something I enjoyed in it. After all, it’s people practicing what they love to do, which is infectious and invigorating.

There’s one problem: I hated the Nutcracker. I found the story line completely impossible to watch, care about or enjoy. I know it’s a classic, but when there’s 10 minutes of bowing and curtsying at the beginning of the play, I’m immediately turning away.

For the readers who don’t know, the Nutcracker, which first premiered in 1892, is set in 1800s-esque household on Christmas. Friends and family gather, they play a number of games and then the girl dreams of her nutcracker turning into a prince, who takes her on an epic journey to celebrate in a land where every nation has dancers who perform for her. It’s quite the party.

But the Nutcracker, in my humble opinion, had trouble relating to our time. Even Laurie, who saw it as a kid, said she remembered it being much better. And, trust me, the whimsical-ness of the story wasn’t lost on me. Yet, even as the dancers do their best, the choreograph tries to hit the exact spot that creator laid out over 100 years ago. This is the downside to the play. It doesn’t offer new ways to excite. New ways to energize. Or new ways to entertain.  Continue reading