‘Nutcracker’ fills the season with wonderment

December 8, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Pacific Northwest Ballet Co. dancers and PNB School students in ‘Nutcracker.’ Photo by Angela Sterling.

Pacific Northwest Ballet Co. dancers and PNB School students in ‘Nutcracker.’ Photo by Angela Sterling.

Whether you’re an annual viewer, an occasional ticket holder or a newcomer, young or old, the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker” is a feast of wonderment for the eyes and ears. 

This year’s 25th anniversary production is no exception. McCaw Hall itself drips with holiday magic and the possibility that makes this season so bright. 

But it’s truly the performers who bring “Nutcracker” to life.It’s hard not to feel wonderment as the rich costumes and sets fill the stage and as Clara’s dreams transport her to other worlds. 

It’s a timeless story created by PNB Founding Artistic Director Kent Stowell and world-famous children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (“Where the Wild Things Are”) that will have Seattle’s “Nutcracker” celebrating its 1,000 performance Christmas Eve. Each of the company’s 51 professional dancers, 26 Professional Division students and more than 200 students from the company’s ballet school participate in the lavish production. 

What truly makes this a magical piece is the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s affinity for using local students to fill the 86 children’s roles required for the piece. 

Local youths performing this year are Jacqueline Hansen, 9, a homeschooled fourth-grader, as a small servant; Margaret Liu, 9, a fourth-grader at Sunny Hills Elementary School, as a party girl; Anna Park, 7, a second-grader at Challenger Elementary School, as a baby mouse; and Emily Elder, 10, a fifth-grader from Grand Ridge Elementary School, Meagan McKelvey, 10, a fourth-grader at Endeavour Elementary School, and Miranda Stuck, 10, a fifth-grader at Open Window School, who are in the infantry.

Liu, who has been dancing for about four years, makes her appearance in the first act.

“I like dancing with the professionals because I can see how they dance, what they do and what they learn,” she said.

“I’m a little scared, but it’s fun and I feel good,” said Park, who has been dancing since she was about 4. 

Playing the small mouse, she gets to hold hands with another mouse and dance around the clock during the first act. She said it is her favorite part in the show — “that and the snowflakes.” 

“I hope to be a snowflake later,” she said. “And tall Clara.”

If you’re sitting off to either side of the stage, in view of the wings, you’ll often see students throwing their hands up in excitement when they’ve nailed complex choreography. That in itself is a treat.

If you go:


Through Dec. 30.

Tickets — $24 – $120

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle 

206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment on this article at www.issaquahpress.com. 


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