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Nutcracker Kids Slideshow: Behind the Scenes at Pacific Northwest Ballet

Published on: December 01, 2013

Every year, more than two hundred Pacific Northwest Ballet students perform in the ballet company's beloved 30-year-old production of Nutcracker, committing to nearly ten hours per week of rehearsal in addition to their regular dance. What is it like to be a Nutcracker kid? How does the experience continue to have an impact on performers years later? This slideshow and accompanying article provides a fascinating glimpse.

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Ballet Master Otto Neubert has been preparing PNB School students for Nutcracker for 23 years. Photo © Angela Sterling, 2007

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Ballet Master Anne Dabrowski rehearses PNB School students cast as Clara in Nutcracker just as she rehearses the professional dancers for their roles. Photo © Angela Sterling, 2007



Once students know their roles, they begin to rehearse with other groups, adding layers of complexity until each scene is complete. Here, Pacific Northwest Ballet Ballet Masters Otto Neubert and Anne Dabrowski rehearse PNB School students in the party scene. Photo © Kurt Smith 1997

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell choreographed Nutcracker 30 years ago. Although retired, he still returns to PNB each year to rehearse the dancers. Photo © Pacific Northwest Ballet, 1983

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest BalletAs opening night approaches, PNB School students begin to rehearse with the professional dancers who will perform with them onstage. Here, Pacific Northwest Ballet artist Flemming Halby rehearses the part of Drosselmeier with PNB School students for the party scene of Nutcracker in 1995. Photo © Kurt Smith

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

In the party scene of Nutcracker, young dancers from the PNB school are matched with professionals from the PNB company to help keep everyone in the right place. Photo © Angela Sterling

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

The young dancers’ physical measurements will determine which roles they can be considered for – they must fit into existing costumes. Photo courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet School students who perform in Nutcracker become members of an artistic community. Here, they prepare for battle in the fight scene of the Kent Stowell/Maurice Sendak Nutcracker. Photo © Angela Sterling, 2011

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell in 1983, the first year of their soon-to-be famous production. Photo © David Cooper

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Whether performing as soldiers or in the starring role of Clara, student dancers discover, “There is no other feeling like being onstage.” Photo © Angela Sterling, 2002

Nutcracker, Pacific Northwest Ballet

The famous snowfall scene of PNB's Nutcracker. Photo by Angela Sterling


See also

Nutcracker Kids

Cracking the Nutcracker Code: Guide to local performances

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