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The Enduring Appeal of The Nutcracker

In 1950
Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the renowned ballet company
Ballets Russes
, hired Polish-born impresario and ballet director Julian Braunsweg to produce a performance at the prominent Deutsches Künstlertheater in Berlin. After a successful opening night, the production flopped. Swallowing his pride, Braunsweg knocked at Diaghilev’s door and raised the issue of his unpaid expenses. According to Neil Tierney’s account in
The Unknown Country
, “Diaghilev listened attentively, and then replied gravely, ‘Young man, why do you think you will make money in ballet? Look at my shoes’…and uncrossing his legs, Diaghilev turned up the sole of his shoe—it was in holes! ‘You see? I have never made any money in ballet and you never will!’” 

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