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BWW Review: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET'S GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER® at McCaw Hall

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In 2021, the production is live as well as digital.

BWW Review:  PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET'S GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER®  at McCaw Hall

'Tis the season for Nutcracker performances, and one of the most enjoyable productions is Pacific Northwest Ballet's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker ®. For 2021, after a pandemic hiatus, PNB is back in Seattle's McCaw Hall dancing on stage for live audiences from November 26th to December 28th. However, you can watch the holiday classic from your own home from December 20th to 28th if you're not able to get to the theatre.

The production adheres closely to Mr. B's original but has some marvelous added touches such as the charming scene on film during the overture with mice that scurry up to the door of the Stahlbaum's home to go inside. Also, new this year in the second act's Tea variation is a character called Green Tea Cricket who is meant to avoid stereotypes of Chinese culture.

If you've never seen Balanchine's Nutcracker, you may be surprised that there is no pas de deux for a Snow Queen and her Prince. Instead, Clara rides on a bed through the Land of the Snow on her way to the Land of the Sweets. Under the bed is a Bed Boy, now called a Bed Person in the PNB production because females as well as males can perform this role that is not credited in the cast list. PNB's Director, Peter Boal, used to be the Bed Boy when he was a member of the New York City Ballet - along with other roles, of course!

You may also notice that the Sugar Plum Fairy does her solo at the beginning of Act II right after the Angels perform rather than as part of a grand pas de deux. Dancers I know who have done the pas de deux in other productions attest to the fact that they would have appreciated this less breathy alternative. In addition, the Cavalier doesn't do a solo. The pas de deux is simply the adagio and the coda.

Another unique aspect of the Balanchine Nutcracker is that the Russian variation is not a Trepak. Instead, it's the Hoops variation with the lead dancer jumping though a hoop. Balanchine performed it in Russia and named it Candy Canes for his NYCB production.

Overall, PNB's Nutcracker is a delight not to be missed. If you buy tickets to the digital version, why not have a Christmas Eve viewing party of this festive and fantastic ballet? Enjoy!

Here are the links for tickets to the event and the digital option.


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From This Author Sondra Forsyth