Former PNB corps member Andrew Bartee as the Nutcracker. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

Pacific Northwest Ballet to Refresh Its "Nutcracker"

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

This year, Pacific Northwest Ballet says good-bye to its time-honored Nutcracker. Choreographed by founding artistic director Kent Stowell—with sets and costumes designed by the beloved picture book author Maurice Sendak—the unique production has been performed for 31 years and has reached audiences far beyond the Northwest, thanks to a 1986 motion-picture featuring PNB star Patricia Barker.


Next year, in an effort to update, artistic director Peter Boal is bringing in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. According to Boal there are a number of reasons for the decision. In the wake of the recession, PNB had been looking carefully at the economics of its Nutcracker, considering how many individuals return year after year versus those who feel they've seen it enough times and might be enticed by something new.

PNB's Chinese Tiger variation. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB.

“The Stowell/Sendak production required significant refurbishment, so it seemed that this was the time for something new," says Boal. PNB will join New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet and other companies that perform Balanchine's choreography. However, Boal has partnered with Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of the Olivia children's book series, to design new sets and costumes.

The leap to the new Nutcracker is logical, given PNB's identity with Balanchine and Boal's personal history at New York City Ballet. “Everybody loves the Nutcracker they grew up with," he says, “and Balanchine's choreography educates you in musicality, formation, technique and speed. Our dancers love Balanchine, so I think they will relish this opportunity."

The company will begin setting the new Nutcracker in summer 2015. How audiences will react when the production is unveiled next winter remains to be seen. The company will honor the final performances of the Stowell/Sendak production this holiday season with historical information and lobby presentations—a fitting send-off for a regional classic.

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