Official sketch of Drosselmeyer by Chris Van Allsburg. Courtesy of the artist.

In With the New: Grand Rapids Ballet Debuts a New "Nutcracker"

This story originally appeared in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of Pointe.

Grand Rapids Ballet, under artistic director and former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Patricia Barker, debuts a new Nutcracker on December 12.

Drawing inspiration from PNB's beloved Nutcracker collaboration with picture book artist Maurice Sendak, Barker commissioned Chris Van Allsburg (of The Polar Express and Jumanji fame) to work on the set and production of the new ballet, along with Broadway design veteran Eugene Lee. "Chris was the first person we thought of for the new production," says Barker. "Maurice actually recommended him."


The ballet will feature details from the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story, and will be choreographed by Val Caniparoli. "This is a collaborative effort, and we're trying to bring out nuances from the original story—some of the darker elements about being a young girl—that haven't yet been explored," Barker says.

Latest Posts


Gavin Smart, Courtesy ROH

Calling All Ballet Lovers! World Ballet Day 2020 Is on October 29

While very little about this year has felt normal, we're excited to share that one of the dance community's landmark events is returning despite the pandemic. October 29 marks World Ballet Day 2020.

This year's iteration of the annual social media extravaganza features three of the world's leading companies: The Royal Ballet, The Australian Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Additional participating companies, which include American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada and Boston Ballet, have just been announced. Last year's World Ballet Day was the biggest yet, reaching over 315 million social media users around the world.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Yan Revazov, Courtesy Staatsballett Berlin

How Staatsballett Berlin Pulled Off "Giselle" in the Age of Coronavirus

It's 8:24 am on a Tuesday. Even though morning class isn't for another hour and a half, Daniil Simkin is already at Staatsballett Berlin's studios; tests for the coronavirus, a biweekly requirement to dance with his partner, Iana Salenko, need to be submitted before 8:30 am—an inconvenient time, if you ask him. "It's annoying, but I'm just really grateful to be performing again," he says. "You do what you have to do."

Staatsballett Berlin has been back onstage since August. Return has been slow and steady, with dancers first performing solos or pas de deux (composed of people who already live together) in galas. On October 28, the company presented an adapted version of Patrice Bart's Giselle, its first full-length production since March. Pointe took a virtual behind-the-scenes tour to learn what goes into mounting a ballet during a pandemic, including safety precautions, adjustments to choreography, and what it feels like to be back onstage.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Ava Rikki, Courtesy Mondesire

I'll Never Forget My First Pair of Flesh-Tone Tights

I remember when I encountered the color cinnamon. Such warmth and comfort instantly saturated my soul. It was the summer of 2015, a time I will never forget, and I was trying on my first pair of flesh-tone tights. The band fit perfectly on my waist with such a calm gentleness. They were tights that looked like me—not ballet pink, the color that many were taught could be the only one in the ballet world. It was me, all the way from my head to my toes. No breaks, perfect continuity.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks