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BWW Feature: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET PRESENTS GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER® Filmed at McCaw Hall

Digital Performance Plus stream available December 11 – 26, 2020 Digital Performance stream available December 18 – 26, 2020

BWW Feature: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET PRESENTS GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER® Filmed at McCaw Hall

Pacific Northwest Ballet's 2020-2021 Dance Happens Everywhere digital season brings the Northwest's favorite holiday tradition to the comfort of home with its sparkling production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®. PNB's archival online performance of the seasonal classic features unique-to-Seattle sets and costumes by Ian Falconer (creator of Olivia the Pig), Tchaikovsky's timeless score performed by the world famous PNB Orchestra under the direction of maestro Emil de Cou, and PNB Company dancers in iconic roles. A delight for audiences young and old, PNB's production is available for streaming during the holiday season for $39, available December 18 - 26; or in a $55 "Performance Plus" package including an extended viewing window (December 11 - 26) with additional digital content. Tickets may be purchased through the PNB Box Office at206.441.2424, or online at PNB.org.

Tickets to George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® and the rest of PNB's digital season may be purchased through the PNB Box Office, 206.441.2424 or online 24/7 at PNB.org

Digital Performance: $39.

The Digital Performance ticket provides unlimited viewings of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® from December 18 to 26, 2020.

Digital Performance Plus: $55.

Extended viewing window! The Digital Performance Plus ticket provides unlimited viewings of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® from December 11 to 26, 2020, plus additional digital content including a gallery of costume sketches by designer Ian Falconer, plus videos of the dancers discussing their roles.

Nutcracker Gift Box

Perfect for under the tree! Add-on a custom Nutcracker gift box, filled to the brim with holiday cheer hand-selected from Amusements Gift Shop to bring the magic of The Nutcracker to your home. Nutcracker Gift Boxes ($75) will be mailed to the purchaser or gift recipient (if applicable.) Visit www.AmusementsGiftShop.com for more information. Note: The Nutcracker Gift Box does not include digital performance access.

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®

Ballet in Two Acts, Four Scenes, and Prologue

Based on E.T.A. Hoffman's tale, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816)

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (The Nutcracker, Op. 71, 1891-1892, with an excerpt from The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66, 1889)

Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust

Staging: Judith Fugate with Peter Boal and Garielle Whittle

Scenic and Costume Design: Ian Falconer

Lighting Design: James F. Ingalls

Original Production Premiere: December 6, 1892; Imperial Ballet, St. Petersburg, choreography by Lev Ivanov

Balanchine Production Premiere: February 2, 1954; New York City Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: November 27, 2015

Digital Running Time: One hour and 35 minutes

"The Nutcracker at our theater is for children young and old. That is, for children and for adults who are children at heart. Because, if an adult is a good person, in his heart he is still a child. In every person the best, the most important part is that which remains from his childhood."

-- George Balanchine

The Imperial Ballet's first performances of The Nutcracker in 1892 at the Maryinsky Theater in St. Petersburg received mixed reviews. Critics complained the music was "too symphonic" and the ballerina (the Sugar Plum Fairy) wasn't given enough to do. Yet, the ballet endured and the suite of musical numbers subsequently drawn from Tchaikovsky's complete score for performance in the concert hall was immediately popular. The composer was particularly delighted by his use of the celesta, the "heavenly" keyboard instrument newly invented in Paris, for the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

When George Balanchine staged The Nutcracker for New York City Ballet in 1954, it was the six-year-old company's most ambitious project to date. Although NYCB's Nutcrackerestablished the ballet as a perennial holiday favorite and became the model for many subsequent productions, the ballet had been danced in the United States since 1940, when Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo performed Alexandra Fedorova's staging of a one-act Nutcracker in New York City. The production subsequently toured the country throughout the '40s and '50s, giving many Americans their first experience of The Nutcracker. The first full-length Nutcracker in the U.S. was choreographed for San Francisco Ballet by Willam Christensen in 1944, replaced in 1954 with a production by Willam's brother, Lew Christensen.

When NYCB moved to the newly built New York State Theater in 1964, its Nutcracker scenery was completely redesigned to take advantage of the larger space. That same year, a young Judith Fugate, newly enrolled in the School of American Ballet, danced the role of Clara for the first time. She would continue in the role for four seasons before moving on to other parts, eventually joining New York City Ballet and adding the leading roles of Dewdrop and the Sugar Plum Fairy to her repertory. In 2015, Fugate took on the role of repetiteur, joining Peter Boal and Garielle Whittle to stage Balanchine's Nutcracker for Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Peter Boal was accepted into the School of American Ballet in 1975. He first performed in Balanchine's Nutcracker as a Party Boy. Fugate was his first stage mother and held his hand tightly as she pulled the nervous ten-year-old onstage. He moved on to the role of the Little Prince, and then Bed Boy, an uncredited part for a teenager who steers Clara's magic bed. Boal joined New York City Ballet and continued to move through the range of Nutcracker roles, eventually performing as Cavalier to Fugate's Sugar Plum Fairy. In 2014, Boal returned to NYCB as a guest artist to perform the role of Herr Drosselmeier.

Pacific Northwest Ballet has its own Nutcracker history, which now intersects with Balanchine's. In 1975, Pacific Northwest Dance, as the company was then called, acquired Lew Christensen's Nutcracker, performing the work for eight seasons. In 1983, under artistic directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell, the Company presented a new production with choreography by Stowell and scenic and costume designs by famed children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. The Stowell & Sendak Nutcracker contributed significantly to the Company's identity, holding the stage for 32 seasons. In 2015, PNB acquired Balanchine's iconic production, blending Boal's personal history-his New England childhood and his 30-year involvement with the Balanchine Nutcracker as both a student and professional dancer-with the future of the Company. New designs by another renowned children's author and illustrator, Ian Falconer, carry the Balanchine staging forward into the 21st century, while the staging by Fugate, Boal, and Whittle ensures the heritage of a tradition reaching back to 1892 and the grandeur of the Imperial era. [Excerpted from program notes by Doug Fullington. For complete notes and more, visit PNB.org/Nutcracker.]

PNB's digital performance of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® is an archival recording from November 21, 2018 at 5:30 pm. Select casting includes:

Sugar Plum Fairy: Leta Biasucci

Cavalier: Lucien Postlewaite

Drosselmeier: Seth Orza

Hot Chocolate: Margaret Mullin and Steven Loch

Coffee: Lindsi Dec

Tea: Price Suddarth

Candy Cane: Ryan Cardea

Marzipan: Angelica Generosa

Mother Ginger: Christopher D'Ariano

Dewdrop: Elizabeth Murphy

Fun Factoids:

99.97% of PNB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® was built entirely by artisans, craftspeople, carpenters, painters, and animators in Seattle, WA.

Over 50 drapers, stitchers, first hands, milliners, dyers and painters built the Nutcracker costumes. PNB's shop was not large enough to accommodate the number of costumers required, so some were constructed at the Seattle Children's Theater and Seattle Repertory Theatre costume shops. There are 154 costumes in the show, not counting duplicates (i.e., multiple versions of the same costume, for different-sized dancers playing the same role - Sugar Plum Fairy, Cavalier, Dewdrop, etc.)

  • Clara's party dress and Drosselmeier's coat lining required 10 light coats of red paint for each stripe.
  • Each Snow skirt has nine layers of various fabrics. There are 56 points on each skirt.
  • There are 174 velvet diamonds and 322 jewels on the Harlequin costume. The Harlequin's partner, Columbine, has 160 velvet diamonds and 272 jewels.
  • 640: Black pompoms on the eight Polichinelle costumes.
  • 760: Petals on the Waltz of the Flowers costumes. (19 costumes, including extras.)
  • 10 feet and 60 pounds: The width and weight of Mother Ginger's skirt.
  • 175: Number of snaps on the Mother Ginger costume.
  • 4,000: Holes cut by hand to create the lace "doily" tutus and headpieces for the Marzipan costumes.
  • 300: Jewels hand-sewn on the two Coffee (peacock) headpieces.
  • 500: Yards of tubular horsehair used for the Party Mothers' hairpieces.
  • 1,428: Cabochons sewn onto the Hot Chocolate women's costumes.
  • 2,568: Appliques machine-sewn on the seven Spanish dresses.
  • Sewing the Nutcracker doll required a 16" long needle.

Seventeen mice (eight adult mice, eight young mice, and the seven-headed Mouse King) were built by Erik Andor and a team of fabricators in his Pioneer Square studio.

  • 98 yards of "fur" were used to create the mice. They have a total of 230 whiskers. Each adult tail consists of 25 segments. Each ear is made up of six pieces. Laid end-to-end, the mice's upper lips total 782 inches.
  • Eagle-eyed audience members may spy one gold tooth on the Mouse King.

35 men and women in the PNB Scene shop built and painted the sets and props.

  • There are 22 painted drops.
  • 3,000 square yards of fabric were used in the creation of the scenery.
  • 343 gallons of paint were used in the painting of the scenery.
  • The corridor scrim during the Prologue depicts Nutcracker historical figures Alexander Dumas, E.T.A. Hoffman, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, George Balanchine, and Lincoln Kirstein.
  • It took 400 hours to build the Christmas tree. At its full height it stands 40 feet. There are 450 lights on it.
  • 30 cubic feet of "snow" are deployed during the Act I Snow scene, per performance.

One of the delightful highlights of PNB's production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® is the animated video that accompanies the overture. (For an excerpt, click here.) Created by Straightface Studios located in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle, the three-and-a-half minute video takes audiences on a flight through the woods and a New England town, up to the front steps of the Stahlbaum home. The town was inspired by antique mid-19th Century maps and satellite images of New England. The terrain covers 372 sq. miles and there are over 1.5 million trees, 8,540 bushes, 287 buildings, and seven mice. In 2016, Straightface created a second video to play during the first act violin solo following the Party scene. This video integrates live-action ballet dancers into a computer-generated world.

The prominent Christmas star that appears in the Snow scene at the end of Act I is presented by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Winter Star, from Chihuly's popular Chandelier series, debuted as part of the artist's iconic Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000 exhibition, and has also been exhibited at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (near London) and New York Botanical Garden.

# # #

Principal sponsorship support for the 2015 PNB premiere of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® with original scenic and costume design by Ian Falconer, was made possible through the generosity of Pam & Dan Baty. Additional major support was provided by Patty Edwards, Carl & Renee Behnke, and Peter & Peggy Horvitz, along with donations from over 900 other individuals. Star Sponsor is Chihuly Studios. The works of George Balanchine performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet, including George Balanchine's The Nutcracker®, are made possible in part by The Louise Nadeau Endowed Fund.

Pacific Northwest Ballet's 2020-2021 digital season is proudly sponsored by Browne Family Vineyards, ArtsFund, Microsoft, and Peter & Peggy Horvitz. Special thanks also to 4Culture, National Endowment for the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and The Wallace Foundation

Photo © Angela Sterling


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