Festive lights, caroling, baking cookies, and wrapping presents are all wonderful but, for me, December is not complete without seeing The Nutcracker Ballet. I began taking ballet lessons at age four and didn't completely stop until my knees gave out nearly thirty years later. Some of my favorite holiday memories are of feeling that particular excitement of waiting backstage for YOUR Nutcracker music to begin--of being part of something so magical and beautiful. As an adult, my tastes in ballet have expanded from the great story ballets to also appreciate the experimental and non-narrative, to enjoy modern and ethnic dance forms. Still, I don't think Nutcracker at Christmastime is something I'll ever outgrow.
There are nearly as many storybook retellings of The Nutcracker as there are versions of this ballet produced in America. A favorite of mine is the Maurice Sendak-illustrated version. Sendak also designed sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's gorgeous production.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE! Hope you're enjoying some of your own festive traditions.