Maldives

In 1903 the sons of Danish immigrants, Christian and Peter Christensen, built the two-story structure at 64 N. Main as an arts school and dance hall called the Box Elder Academy of Music and Dancing. The building was renamed the Academy Conference Center during its $3.9 USD renovation that was completed earlier this year. Although the Nutcracker Ballet was never performed in this facility, the connection to the Christensen Brothers is a source of great pride to the city and a truly unique feature of Historic Downtown.

Tchaikovsky's now-classic ballet The Nutcracker received its first complete production in the U.S. on 24 December 1944, performed by the San Francisco Ballet. This production used the ballet's original plot and was choreographed by Willam Christensen, who danced the role of the Cavalier. Gisella Caccialanza, the wife of Lew Christensen, danced the rôle of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The staging was a huge success and one critic wrote: "We can't understand why a vehicle of such fantastic beauty and originality could be produced in Europe in 1892 with signal success [a factually erroneous claim] and never be produced in its entirety in this country until 1944. Perhaps choreographers will make up for lost time from now on." The company was the first in the U.S. to make the ballet an annual tradition, and for ten years, the only company in the United States performing the complete ballet, until George Balanchine's production opened in New York in 1954. (Annual productions of the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker began in 1949.)

The San Francisco Ballet performs The Nutcracker annually to this day, though not necessarily with Christensen's choreography (their most recent version is choreographed by Helgi Tomasson). The stage success of the Christensen version marked the first step in making productions of The Nutcracker annual Christmas season traditions all over the world - a phenomenon that did not really come to flower until the late 1960s.

Historic Downtown Brigham City sponsors events and activities during the Christmas Holiday to educate the community about the Box Elder Academy of Music and Dancing, the role of the Christensen Brothers, and the truly unique heritage behind the Nutcracker Ballet.

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Historic Downtown Brigham City
95 S Main St
Brigham City, UT 84302

Phone: 435-538-7949
info@historicbrigham.org