Visions of Sugarplums: The Nutcracker Quiz

Bambi Turner

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

What started as a simple children's book has transformed into one of the most important traditions of the holiday season, as fans young and old flock to theaters to see one of the most iconic ballets of all time. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the history, music and characters that make up this Christmas classic.

What was Clara's name in the original book that inspired "The Nutcracker" ballet?

Many modern versions of "The Nutcracker" change Maria to Clara, but the original name of the young girl at the heart of the story stays the same in Russian versions of the production, where Maria is typically known by the name Masha.

What does Clara use to kill the Mouse King?

Clara throws her slipper, which kills the Mouse King and brings Act I of the ballet to a close.

Who shares a pas de deux with the Sugarplum Fairy?

The Sugarplum Fairy famously dances a pas de deux with the Cavalier, though some versions of the show replace the Sugarplum Fairy with Clara to dance this pivotal scene.

Where does Act II of "The Nutcracker" take place?

At the end of Act I, Clara and the Prince travel on a sled from the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets, which serves as the setting for Act II.

Which of these is NOT one of the Stahlbaum children?

The three Stahlbaum children -- Fritz, Louisa and Maria (or Clara) -- all appear throughout the duration of "The Nutcracker."

Who gives Clara her precious nutcracker for Christmas?

Clara's godfather, the inventor Herr Drosselmeier, gives the Nutcracker to the Stahlbaum family, but Clara immediately takes a special liking to the gift.

Who battles the mice during Act I of the ballet?

Fritz's toy soldiers come to life to battle the mice, who are led into battle by the wicked Mouse King.

Who transforms into the Prince in Clara's dream?

Herr Drosselmeier's nephew transforms into a Prince in Clara's dream and travels with her through the wondrous Kingdom of Sweets.

What candy represents the Russian dancers in Act II?

In Act II of "The Nutcracker," dances from various countries create food-themed performances, with candy canes for Russia and chocolate for Spain.

Who hides the Polichinelles under her skirt?

The 8 young Polinchinelles hide beneath the voluminous skirt of Mother Ginger, but often escape to perform a dance of their own.

Who adapted "The Nutcracker" story into the version used in the modern ballet?

While E.T.A. Hoffman wrote the original "Nutcracker" story in 1816, Alexandre Dumas gave the story a lighter, friendlier feel when he adapted it in 1845.

What year was the ballet performed for the first time?

The first performance of "The Nutcracker" took place December 18, 1892 at the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.

What legendary choreographer created the very first ballet version of "The Nutcracker?"

Father of Russian ballet Marius Petipa composed the 1892 version of the ballet, assisted by Lev Ivanov.

What was the first U.S. company to perform "The Nutcracker?"

The San Francisco Ballet was the first to bring "The Nutcracker" to the United States when it performed the ballet in 1944.

Which of these parts is unique to the Moscow Ballet's version of "The Nutcracker?"'

Unlike other versions of the ballet, the Moscow Ballet's version features the Dove of Peace, who welcomes Clara and the Prince to the Land of Peace and Harmony.

Who composed the music for "The Nutcracker?"

It was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky who came up with the iconic music we now know as The Nutcracker Suite.

What instrument signals the arrival of the Sugarplum Fairy?

Tchaikovsky used the celesta -- a keyboard instrument similar to a piano -- to create the tinkling sounds of the Sugarplum Fairy.

Which country's dance in Act II is known as the Trepak?

The Russian candy cane dance, with its traditional Russian folk dancing, is also known as the Trepak.

What waltz features a dance by the Dewdrop Fairy?

The Dewdrop Fairy soars across the stage during the Waltz of the Flowers near the conclusion of Act II.

The first performance of "The Nutcracker" was considered a failure.

The 1892 performance of "The Nutcracker," which played on a double bill alongside an opera called "Iolanta," was considered a failure. Even Tchaikovsky described the production as boring.

"The Nutcracker" is one of the most lucrative productions for ballet companies.

"The Nutcracker" often helps keep the lights on for ballet companies. At the San Francisco Ballet, for example, 40 percent of annual ticket sales come solely from "The Nutcracker."

What year did George Balanchine choreograph his famous version of "The Nutcracker?"

The legendary Balanchine composed his version of the show for the New York City Ballet in 1954. As a child, Balanchine danced the role of the Prince in a Russian production of the ballet.

In the book that inspired the ballet, Clara never comes home at the end.

The book version of the story is much harsher than the ballet. Clara's parents are much tougher in the book, and she decides not to return home when the story concludes.

Maurice Sendak once designed costumes for a production of "The Nutcracker."

The beloved children's author and illustrator was chosen to design the costumes for the Northwest Pacific Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" in 1983.

What skater starred in "The Nutcracker: A Fantasy on Ice?"

Olympic champion Dorothy Hamill starred opposite Robin Cousins in the 1983 production, which moved the ballet from the stage to the skating rink.

What is a Mirliton?

The Dance of the Mirlitons -- or reed pipes -- takes its name from a simple kazoo-like instrument known as the mirliton.

What 1940 Disney film incorporated music from "The Nutcracker?"

Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite features in "Fantasia," where fairies and hippos dance through fields of mushrooms. The film was ahead of its time, using music from "The Nutcracker" four years before the ballet was ever performed in the U.S.

Who breaks the nutcracker early on in the story?

Fritz breaks the nutcracker during a tussle with Clara. In some versions, Herr Drosselmeier repairs his creation. In others, Clara mends the nutcracker with her hair ribbon.

"The Nutcracker" was Tchaikovsky's third ballet.

Take about prolific. Tchaikovsky wrote the music for both "Sleeping Beauty" and "Swan Lake" before taking on "The Nutcracker," his third ballet.

What role is Keira Knightley set to play in the 2018 live-action Disney version of "The Nutcracker?"

Disney announced in 2016 that Keira Knightley would play the Sugarplum Fairy. For those wondering about the whole ballet thing -- Misty Copeland is also set to star in the production.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes