In Clara’s dream, an army of toy soldiers come to life to aid the Nutcracker in his battle with the King of the Mice. It’s a well-organized army made up of four different ranks: officers, infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Both their choreography and their uniform (costume) illuminate their distinctive ranks.
Two officers lead the charge, marching neatly out of the toy cabinet carrying a flag and a drum. You can tell their rank by their high boots, their black helmets and sash, and the embellishment on their coats.
The infantry marches in perfect unity in striped trousers. Each is armed with a (wooden) rifle. This group handles most of the actual fighting with the mice. Their helmets are blue, with red-and-white tassels.
When the situation looks dire, the artillery brings out the big gun (literally). Their uniforms are similar to the officers’, but with a pink sash and longer red-and-white streamers on their helmets.
The cavalry (at right in the above photo) charges in on horseback, with swords raised, to battle the mice in hand-to-hand combat.
Header image: SF Ballet in Tomasson’s Nutcracker // © Erik Tomasson