Seemingly part of every dancer’s upbringing and end-of-year routine, “The Nutcracker” is a ballet interpreted annually by local schools and esteemed companies across the globe. With its melting pot of a second act, there is perhaps no more iconic American Christmas tradition. Audiences are taken to a land of sweets where they are greeted by fantastical creatures, both imagined and “real” — from dancing flowers and a towering Mother Ginger to Chinese tea and Arabian coffee treats.
Ballet as an art form has existed for centuries and is frequently criticized in present-day for its outdated orientalist themes, including “Nutcracker”’s depiction of Asians and other exoticized ethnic groups. Final Bow for Yellowface is an organization of ballet lovers in its fifth year of consulting with major companies and artists to replace a historical reliance on racial stereotypes with multiculturalism, reminding us that every production is an active choice to either preserve or evolve a beloved holiday tradition.
KSL-TV, an NBC-affiliated news network in Utah, is under fire for airing a segment with dancers from Odyssey Dance Theater attempting to look Chinese by “improvising” an insensitive gesture.
The incident happened on the morning of November 14 when the dancers appeared on KSL to tease an upcoming performance of “The Nutcracker.”