One of my favorite holiday traditions is watching the Nutcracker ballet. I performed in it a lot when I was younger and I love the music. I just found the Balanchine version with the New York City Ballet on Netflix and have not focused at all. The grace and talent exhibited by the dancers is breath taking.
However, I have such an internal conflict. The Nutcrackers that I have seen or are most available to watch are so obviously racist. I didn’t see it when I was younger, because it wasn’t my culture being attacked. Yet, as I grow and mature, I think how on earth is this still going? I try to tell myself to try not to be a social justice advocate and just watch the dancing. However, life and art are too interconnected to turn a blind eye. The Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese dances often disguised as coffee, chocolate, and tea are pretty overtly racist. I cannot be complicit in racism just because I am not the target.
While I still enjoy the dancing and the way the music makes me feel, I must hunt for a nutcracker that is not racist. Like it’s a magical, pretend world. There is no need to appropriate real cultures and portray stereotypes. Now that we know better, we must force the dance world to do better and not perpetuate such racism as holiday cheer.