Ballet in two acts (three tableaux). Choreography by John Neumeier.
Marie´s Birthday Marie is 12 years old, an age when girls cease to play with dolls. Her brother, Fritz, is a cadet, and has invited his regimental comrades, her sister Louise, a ballerina at the court theatre, and the ballet master Drosselmeier. Günther, a friend of Fritz and fellow cadet, who acts as spokesman for his comrades, gives Marie a nutcracker on behalf of the regiment, while the ballet master Drosselmeier gives her a pair of point shoes. Marie is fascinated by Drosselmeier but falls in love with Günther.
Marie´s Dream – The Rehearsal When the guests have left, Marie enters the room once more, the nutcracker cradled in her arm, and secretly puts on the point shoes. She is startled by the appearance of Drosselmeier who in her dream leads her into the mysterious theatre world. Marie is enchanted by her surroundings. Her encounter with Günther recurs in the dream. She meets him as soloist of the court theatre and dances with him for the first time on full point. She takes part in a magnificent rehearsal.
Marie´s Dream – The Performance Drosselmeier shows Marie how a production is created: the empty stage becomes a scenario in which everything is in preparation for the performance. Drosselmeier shows several divertissements, and at times himself takes part in the dancing. Her brother Fritz also appears before Marie as a dancer. Louise dances the grand pas de deux with Günther. After the turbulent finale, the theatre world disappears – Marie is awakened. She wistfully takes leave of her dream.