Is the New Republic circling the drain? “Sorry, ‘The Nutcracker’ is racist”

It’s hard to imagine now, but when The Nutcracker premiered at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater in 1892, it was a dud… Now, The Nutcracker is one of the most popular ballets in the world; the story is as much a part of the Christmas canon as Rudolph or Frosty, and many dancers credit The Nutcracker with inspiring their own careers… Companies rely on The Nutcracker to sustain them for the rest of the year; at NYCB, Nutcracker generates about 40 percent of the annual revenue.

It is also traffics in blatant and offensive stereotypes. Dressed in harem pants and a straw hat, eyes painted to look slanted, the white man playing “Chinese Tea” jumps out of a box and bows; two white women, wearing chopsticks in their black wigs, dance with their index fingers pointed in the air.

In a dance conceived as “something for the fathers,” a woman portraying “Arabian coffee” slinks around the stage in a belly shirt, bells attached to her ankles. (Choreographers in different genres continue to reinterpret it; in Austin McCormick’s Nutcracker Rouge, “Arabian” is a pole dance.)

It’s a beloved Christmas tradition—but parts of The Nutcracker haven’t aged well.

This continues throughout Act II, as dancers representing different parts of the world entertain the two young (European) heroes. It hasn’t gone totally unnoticed; Dance Magazine published a short debate on the issue last year, and ballet-goers like Feministing’s Chloe Angyal have criticized the ballet’s ethnocentrism. “I spend large portions of the second act cringing and rolling my eyes, because I’m reminded all over again that this ballet contains some unbelievably offensive racial and ethnic stereotypes,” she wrote…

But the racial insensitivity of The Nutcracker is symptomatic of a bigger issue. Ballet is, to put it mildly, not a progressive art form…

The article is being heavily criticized in the comments. That might, of course, reflect the sudden change in editorial direction. It may be just a question of shedding the politically incorrect readers and replacing them with a lefty crowd.

There is certainly plenty of those. Race grievance mongering has never been more popular.

As was noted on this blog a few months ago, the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Mikado was attacked for being racist too. But, hey, diversity is our strength.

What is the downside of losing a few popular cultural icons when they are being replaced by wonders such the new Aga Khan’s museum?

  • Martin B

    “Ballet, is to put it mildly, not a progressive art form”

    If progressives like the #$%$ responsible for this article have their way, the only art form left will be genderless faceless brainless zombies chanting Diversity is Strength!

    • Just a thought

      in a monotone

  • ontario john

    I’m sure all Toronto schools will be making field trips to the new museum of muslim propaganda. It will help them when the new islamic studies building is opened by the university of Toronto next to the Royal Ontario Museum.

  • Just a thought

    Noel Coward nailed the “small minority” who, sadly, are now running everything…
    Just replace “Germans” with “Mohammed” and laugh/cry over how effectively those fools have made satire into a way of life.

    • Frau Katze

      Excellent! Carrying on the tradition of British humour.

  • FactsWillOut

    I guess when africans or chinese pretend to be white, by, say, driving a car or using a phone, that they’re being racist too.

    • Maggat

      WOW, that was a good one!!!

    • ntt1

      Wrong about the Chinese, they drive their cars as chinese with out pretense, that is the problem.40pounds of lanterns incense burners and talismans hanging from the rearview mirror do not help at all, as does the fact that when seated many have major problems looking over the dash board then there is the windshield …

  • Icebow

    I’d have thought Libtards would have approved of ‘Nutcracker’, as meaning ‘mad white person’.

    • Frau Katze


    • ntt1

      it is an old term last heard around whistler BC in the70s that refered to a sexually agressive fright bat or cougar

  • David Murrell

    I think an earlier BCF post discussed the rather inane infighting at the New Republic, with the mass resignation of editors and such, given the new ownership:;_ylt=AwrBTvvRyZ1UX8IAoxzrFAx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMG04Z2o2BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw–

    If there is a panic that this moribund rag would turn centrist, this posted article can put a rest to that. It seems the new owner is interested in cutting costs, making the mag less relevant in this new world. Why bother giving this relic any notice? The New Republic, like TIME, is becoming irrelevant to anything.

    • Frau Katze

      It was always liberal, but it in old meaning of liberal. Now it is just one more garden variety site putting the same old crap. You can it at Salon and Vox for free. Why pay for TNR?

  • Surele Surele

    Hands off my Nutcracker!

    • AlanUK

      Hands off my Mikado!!

  • Maggat

    These tiny minded freaks can just shove off. The Nut Cracker Suite is one of Tchaikovsky’s finest works. I’ve seen it live twice and loved it. These professional offendees can shove their offendedness where the sun don’t shine!

  • Pete_Brewster

    Which is strange, because only progressives and the rich idiots who bankroll their causes can afford to watch ballet except on television. Nobody who has to work for a living has that luxury.

    • Frau Katze

      A season’s ticket is expensive, but if you want to go, is ballet more expensive than hockey or football?

    • Maggat

      I was lucky enough to have spent six years in Baku. They have a beautiful 1890s opera hall and other theaters for live performances. Opera, ballet, symphony, it was a veritable feast.
      The best seating in the opera hall was never more than $10.00, gotta love it.

      • Maggat

        A couple of pics, a ballet scene (cell phones were not so smart then), and the Baku Opera Theater.


    Ballet, BALLET?

  • Martin

    Nutcracker – the real thing – 1- Bolshoi Ballet Moscow – Nina Kaptsova & Artiom Ovcharenko

  • Hard Little Machine

    Wait till they discover that the bad girl in Swan Lake is black.