The Dancing Pop-Up Book

Review of The Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet by Rheanna M.

Photo by Angela Sterling

A childhood favorite, The Nutcracker has always been a crowd-pleaser. With rollicking music by Peter Tchaikovsky, the tunes will stick with you for years, be it the tinkling Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairies, or the most memorable March, whose violins will be plucking at the strings of your heart, The Nutcracker has never been more fabulous.

Photo by Angela Sterling

Usually, as one might expect, you go to the ballet for one of two reasons: you want to see the dancers, or you want to hear the music. Both are fantastic, of course! However, this is not the main reason I wanted to see this production of Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic. The reason I wished to see the performance so badly was not the dancing or the music, but the visual art that accompanies it. In 1984, Maurice Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are, banded together with choreographer Kent Stowell to create the masterpiece that is now the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

Sendak’s amazing set design is so incredibly detailed that at times it borders on distracting - the intricate borders surrounding the stage create the illusion of depth that makes you feel like you are watching a dancing pop-up book. This is not to mention the impeccable costuming, let alone the expanding Christmas tree that made me gasp in awe. The dancers themselves are ridiculously talented - Batkhurel Bold as the Prince had us gaping at his thigh muscles, and the grace and flow of Ariana Lallone as the Peacock always had the audience mesmerized. My personal favorite was Olivier Wevers as Herr Drosselmeir, the somewhat loony godfather. I appreciated that his roll was less of an impressive dance performance, and more of a brilliant work of acting. Having more theater in my history than dance obviously influenced this, but he was stunning nonetheless.

Photo by Angela Sterling

All in all, the performance exceeded my expectations. This is an event for the whole family, but alternatively can be greatly enjoyed on your own. This particular ballet requires no previous experience or appreciation of dance, just an open mind and wild imagination, and it will take you on an adventure you wouldn’t have begun to imagine. The show will be running 'til December 27th, and I highly encourage anyone that can to dress up and spend a night at the ballet, where you can indulge in a visual feast better than anything you could watch from the comfort of your home.

The Nutcracker
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Through December 27th
NOTE: The Nutcracker is NOT Teen Tix-eligible. For a rundown of special offers available for this show, visit PNB's website.

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