Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of PNB

For many dancers, performing in some version of The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition—albeit an inescapable, monthlong one that can quickly grow tedious. But for Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Noelani Pantastico, it's a welcome return to her roots. After an 11-year career with PNB, where she annually performed Kent Stowell and Maurice Sendak's fantastical adaptation, she left to join Les Ballets de Monte Carlo—a company with no classical Nutcracker. "I did miss it," she admits. When she returned to PNB last fall, seven years later, the company had just traded the Stowell/Sendak production for George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Pantastico was pleasantly surprised to discover her muscle memory kicked in—from her training days at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, which also performs the Balanchine version. "I remembered things from when I was a teenager," she says. "I was coached by Darla Hoover, and it's ingrained in the body." At the end of last month, Pantastico began her PNB Nutcracker run, alternating among leading roles like the Sugar Plum Fairy, Dewdrop and Marzipan.

Keep reading... Show less

The holidays are here and in the dance world, that typically means one thing: Nutcracker season! As a former bunhead, I’d be remiss not to give a shout-out to some of the Nutcracker productions we all know and love.

Houston Ballet's Jared Matthews and Karina Gonzalez dance the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux.

10 Nutcrackers That Rock

  1. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker(1954) Where to see it: New York City Ballet; Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle; Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia.

  1. Kent Stowell’s Nutcracker(1983) Where to see it: PNB retired the production last year, but you can catch it on DVD via Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, filmed in 2011.

  1. Ben Stevenson’s The Nutcracker(1987) Where to see it: Houston Ballet, Houston, Texas (Catch it now because HB is retiring the production after this year. Artistic director Stanton Welch will present a new version in 2016.)

  1. Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut(1991) Where to see it: Mark Morris Dance Group, Brooklyn, NY.

  1. Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker!(1992) Where to see it: available on DVD.

  1. Helgi Tomasson’s Nutcracker(2004) Where to see it: San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco.

  1. Debbie Allen’s The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker(2010) Where to see it: Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Los Angeles.

  1. Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker(2010) Where to see it: American Ballet Theatre, Costa Mesa, California.

  1. Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker(2012) Where to see it: Boston Ballet, Boston.

  1. Gelsey Kirkland’s The Nutcracker(2013) Where to see it: Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, Brooklyn, NY.

The snow scene from Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker

5 Reasons Why The Nutcracker Will Never Get Old

  1. The music is iconic—Nothing rings in the holiday season quite like Tschaikovsky’s score.

  1. It’s joyful—In most versions, the unhappiest thing that happens is Clara’s nutcracker getting broken (only temporarily) by her pesky brother Fritz. Not too bad if you ask me!

  1. It’s the perfect blend of narrative and non-narrative ballet—The first act’s party and fight scenes are ballet acting at its finest. The second act’s Land of Sweets offers a buffet of dance delicacies.

  1. It’s a time-honored holiday tradition—If you haven’t danced in it, it’s likely you’ve seen it. Each year, thousands of people attend the show, bringing in roughly 40 percent of ballet companies’ annual revenue.

  1. There’s something in it for everyone—From the humorous antics of the opening party scene to the action-packed fight scene that follows, to the technical feats of the Sugar Plum Fairy, it’s a show everyone can enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

Photos (from top): by Amitava Sarkar, courtesy of Houston Ballet; by Gene Shiavone, courtesy of American Ballet Theatre

Don’t miss a single issue of Dance Teacher.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Revelations

This fall, great American dance is coming to a movie theater near you. The Lincoln Center at the Movies series kicked off on September 24 with screenings of San Francisco Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet in nearly 400 cinemas nationwide. On October 22, dance lovers can see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s signature work Revelations and other Ailey fan favorites. Performances by Ballet Hispanico and New York City Ballet round out the inaugural cinema season, which concludes December 10 with NYCB’s holiday classic George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Each screening includes fun extras like interviews with company dancers and behind-the-scenes footage. See lincolncenteratthemovies.org.

Ashley Bouder and the New York City Ballet perform George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.

Photos from top: by Gert Krautbauer; by Paul Kolnik, both courtesy of Lincoln Center

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox