nutcrackerClara has been completely enchanted by The Nutcracker for the past several weeks. She first heard the music at preschool, where they’ve got two different CDs of the ballet, and the teachers reported about two weeks ago that she was requesting these CDs and listening intently to them for long periods of time. She also became fascinated with the giant nutcracker toys/statues that appear here and there during the Christmas season — there are a couple of especially nice ones flanking the elevators at a hotel that her Grannie and Grandpa were staying at, and we made a return trip to that hotel last weekend (even though the grandparents had long since moved on) just to look at the nutcrackers.

But she hadn’t seen the ballet. So for an early christmas present, Karen got her a DVD of the Bulgarian National Ballet, or a similar ex-Soviet ballet troupe, performing the ballet, and Clara opened it this morning. We put the DVD on and she was instantly engrossed. Knowing nothing of the ballet or the storyline, she got right into it — purely on the strength of the music, I think. Actually, she’d been making up her own stories to go with the music until this morning (“This part sounds like people sliding around!” … “The scary part is where they’re cracking the nuts! They go BOOM!”), but having her own stories didn’t seem to get in the way of her enjoying the ballet directly.

Amazing. Tchaikovsky is pretty powerful — he goes right for the emotional hot buttons, and even after a century, it still works, even on 4 year olds. Makes me wonder if this stuff is hardwired.

As a bonus, I’m looking forward to having an hourlong DVD that she will sit through. That’s almost three times as much programmed distraction as a Wallace & Gromit short!