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‘Nutcracker’ ballet productions abound

Harper&I Dance Center presents “The Nutcracker” Nov. 28 and 29 at Mount Baker Theatre.
Harper&I Dance Center presents “The Nutcracker” Nov. 28 and 29 at Mount Baker Theatre. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

If it’s nearly winter, it’s “Nutcracker” time!

Maurice Sendak’s set in Seattle has been replaced by one by children’s author and illustrator Ian Falconer.

If you want to see a new, extravagant version of the holiday ballet set to the magical music of Tchaikovsky, Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet offers 36 performances of a new production of George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker,” Friday, Nov. 27, through Dec. 28 at Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall.

The set by beloved children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak that was a tradition of PNB since 1983 are gone, and the production now feature eye-popping colorful sets and costumes designed by Ian Falconer, author and illustrator of “Olivia the Pig.”

Closer to home, Harper&I Dance Center presents the first of several weekends of “Nutcracker” wonder by local companies. Artistic director Stephanie Harper and her faculty will stage original choreography that features not only ballet, but hip-hop and contemporary dance, with performers age 3 and older, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29, at Mount Baker Theatre.

Ballet Bellingham donates more than 200 tickets to local children’s charities.

Ballet Bellingham returns to the Mount Baker Theatre stage, with more than 50 dancers selected by auditions open to the entire Whatcom County community, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4. As with Harper&I, children as young as 3 take the stage, performing as adorable mice and party guests.

Continuing the tradition that Ballet Bellingham began with its first performances of “The Nutcracker,” the company will once again donate more than 200 tickets to local children’s charities.

“Ballet deserves to be enjoyed by everyone,” says artistic director Jessica Crook. “Ballet Bellingham offers a cultural opportunity that we want to share with those in our community who otherwise are not able to experience the magic and art of ballet.”

“Our dancers are dedicated and hard-working, and it is very rewarding for them to see the joy and happiness on the faces of the children who may be seeing ballet for the first time,” she says.

For the 17th year, Bellingham’s Northwest Ballet Theatre’s traditional staging of the ballet will have offerings Dec. 5-21 at Mount Baker Theatre, Blaine Performing Art Center, and McIntyre Hall in Mount Vernon.

John Bishop, artistic director and choreographer, says dancers have been practicing pas de deux and pirouettes at the studio on Cornwall Avenue since October.

“Everyone from little pink mice to the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier rehearse to the familiar strains of Tchaikovsky’s score,” he says.

The magic of this ballet was evident from that moment.

Peter Boal, Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director, about the first time he saw ‘The Nutcracker’

Looking for a holiday ballet performance accessible to the entire family? Opus Performing Arts presents a concert in “Winter White” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10, at Mount Baker Theatre (Bellingham’s public schools are closed the next day).

Performed by Opus’ ballet students, “Winter White” combines scenes from classical ballets, such as “Waltz of the Snowflakes” from the “Nutcracker,” George Balanchine’s “Serenade,” and variations from “Giselle” and “La Bayadere.”

The 60-minute show is just the right length for kids and adults alike, says Allan Redstone, owner of the Bellingham ballet and dance school.

Seattle’s PNB artistic director Peter Boal sums up the wonder of the holiday production. Speaking of Balanchine’s production, Boal says he first say the ballet when he was 5.

“I remember it like it was only yesterday; the mighty Mouse King, the Towering Tree, and the delicious Land of Sweets,” he says. “The magic of this ballet was evident from that moment.”

“Nutcracker” ballet

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Nov. 27-Dec. 28, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center

$40-$144

206-441-2424, online at pnb.org, in-person at 301 Mercer St.

Harper&I

7 p.m. Nov. 28, 2 p.m. Nov. 29

Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

$18 general, free for children 2 and younger

360-734-6080, mountbakertheatre.com

Ballet Bellingham

7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Mount Baker Theatre

$24 adults, $18 students, seniors, youth

360-734-6080, mountbakertheatre.com

Northwest Ballet Theatre

7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 2 p.m. Dec. 6, Blaine Performing Arts Center, 975 H St.

$20 adults, $15 students, seniors, military (festival seating)

blainenutcracker.eventbrite.com

7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Dec. 13, Mount Baker Theatre

$26-$34 adults, $23 and $26 seniors and students

360-734-6080, mountbakertheatre.com

7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 2 p.m. Dec. 20, McIntyre Hall, Skagit Valley College, 2501 E. College Way, Mount Vernon

$24-$35

360-416-772, mcintyrehall.org

Opus Performing Arts: “Winter White”

7 p.m. Dec. 10, Mount Baker Theatre

$10 adults, $5 youth, free for ages 6 and younger

360-734-6080, mountbakertheatre.com

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