Even if the Russian composer did not write only ballet compositions, they remain his greatest work. When he first staged them, the public did not like them which is why Tchaikovsky only wrote three ballets but not they are the most important performances that a ballet school could stage. But do you know what these ballets are about? Some of them became famous movies, and one of them became a Christmas tradition.
Swan Lake, the first ballet that left the audience unimpressed
Hist first ballet, Swan Lake, did not impress the audience. It was first staged on 20th February 1877, and the choreography and staging led to the performance to be abandoned.
The ballet in four acts tells the story of a beautiful girl who was transformed into a swan. Prince Siegfried needs to marry so a ball is thrown to find him a wife. He feels overwhelmed by the festivities and goes near the lake where he sees swans. He watches them transform into beautiful women and falls in love with Odette, the most beautiful of them. Odette explains to him that they had been cursed by an evil man and they can be humans only near that lake. She also tells him how to break their curse: only the love of a young man who never swore his love to another could break their curse.
The prince swears that he will break their curse, but no one realised that they had been watched by the evil man. The next day, at another ball the prince wants to present Odette as his fiancée, but the evil man brought his sister who looked like the swan, Odillia. In a beautiful pas de deux Odillia convinced the prince that she is the girl he fell in love with. He presents Odillia to his mother and breaks his vow to Odette. The trick is discovered and now the curse cannot be broken. Siegfried finds Odette and tells her how he was tricked, but the swan forgives him. And because their love was pure and true the curse is broken.
The Sleeping Beauty, his second ballet that is almost overlooked
The story of Sleeping Beauty was made popular by Disney. But before it was a cartoon movie, it was a complex ballet. Still, the story is almost similar. Some differences are the name: Maleficent is the fairy Carabosse, on her birthday princess Aurora receives flowers from Carabosse that had a hidden needle which cursed her to sleep. And the third act is sometimes considered a different ballet because it presents the wedding between the saving prince and Aurora with memorable dances.
The Nutcracker, his last ballet played every year around Christmas
His last ballet is an immortal story. It is played every year around Christmas. It tells the story of a little girl called either Clara, or Masha. The family decorates the Christmas tree. After this moment, the children and the uncle enter the room. The uncle gives dolls to every child. After Fritz makes Clara cry, her uncle gives her a Nutcracker. Fritz throws the toy to the ground, but the Nutcracker starts to dance. When it is time for the children to sleep, Clara feels that she is unable.
She sees how mice try to conquer the room and her Nutcracker fights them. Because the mice had the advantage of being more numerous, they almost win, but Clara bravely intervenes and saves her Nutcracker who transforms into a beautiful prince. The prince invites her to the land of sweets. Clara accepts and in the second act we see this mystical realm and everyone dancing for the brave Clara. Because the second act feels like a different story, sometimes it is presented as a different ballet.