Food & Culture

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’ Backdrop Tells Its Own Story

The busts in the backdrop are actual historic figures associated with this timeless classic

By Gwendolyn Elliott November 20, 2018


This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Clockwise from top center portrait (1, depicting E.T.A. Hoffmann, original author): 2, Marius Petipa (original choreographer), 3, Lincoln Kirstein (who helped establish the New York City Ballet, where The Nutcracker has been performed annually since 1954), 4, George Balanchine (renowned NYCB choreographer), 5, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (composer), 6, Lev Ivanov (Russian ballet dancer who choreographed The Nutcracker with Petipa) and 7, Alexandre Dumas (author who adapted Hoffmann’s novella into the ballet The Nutcracker)

This article appears in print in the December 2018 issue. Click here to subscribe.

If you’ve ever wondered whether the magic of this perennial production might be wearing thin, take another look. Peer beyond George Balanchine’s crisp choreography and the artistry of the Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers who bring the ballet to life (look for newly appointed principal dancer Leta Biasucci in multiple roles), and examine this backdrop, created by set and costume designer Ian Falconer.

The busts are actual historic figures associated with this timeless classic (see caption for the who’s who). The cameos above Tchaikovsky and Balanchine? George and Martha Washington. The Christmas star that appears at the end of Act I? It’s a piece from Dale Chilhuly’s Chandelier series. And the pig? Well, we’re not going to tell you everything.

11/23–12/28. Times and prices vary. McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, 301 Mercer St.; 206.441.2424

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