In “The Slutcracker Ballet,” The Sugar Plum Fairy Goes Burlesque

Everyone should see “The Nutcracker” ballet at least once in their lifetime. And if you’re demented like me, you should see the ballet/burlesque fusion show “The Slutcracker” at least once, too!

Whereas traditional ballet celebrates poise and elegance,  “The Slutcracker” turns the traditional Christmastime show on its head with satirical, saucy performances involving pole dancing and BDSM. It’s the brainchild of former ballet dancer Vanessa White and has run for four holiday seasons in Somerville, Massachusetts. In an interview with Tufts Daily student newspaper, Vanessa explained how she danced ballet for 11 years but gravitated towards burlesque after an injury. Vanessa also edited Boink, the erotica magazine for Boston University, and went on to found a burlesque troupe called Babes In Boinkland. In an entirely natural way, “The Slutcracker” became a melding of all these interests. In her interview with Tufts Daily, Vanessa didn’t directly answer a question about whether “The Slutcracker” is sex-positive or feminist, instead answering, “A lot of people want to take a political message from the show.” Writing on Bust magazine’s website, a longtime dancer named “Intern Sarah” acknowledges that ballet’s image as “a rigorous discipline that celebrates only traditional femininity and promotes unhealthy body-image standards” could use some feminist rehabbing. But even acknowledging the satire involved in this show, she’s unsure:

I … feel that a show which mixes ballet with other dance forms is not reforming ballet’s image so much as deviating from it. Couldn’t there be a feminist, girl-power ballet? Do we necessarily have to use other movement styles to get away from the negative images that gauzy tutus and stick-thin prima ballerinas can inspire in us as women? 

That’s certainly thought-provoking and I’d love to hear what Frisky readers who’ve studied dance, especially ballet, think. 

You can purchase tickets to “The Slutcracker” on the Sommerville Theatre website here. If anyone has seen the performance or goes to see it this year, tell us about it in the comments!

[Bust Magazine]

[Tufts Daily]

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