Ashley Bouder George Balanchine's The Nutcracker Act II Choreography George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust New York City Ballet Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik studio@paulkolnik.com nyc 212-362-7778

Tickets range in price from $85 - $290.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (1816), demands a full-scale production: children of all ages from New York City and the nation fill the David H. Koch Theater to be captivated by Tschaikovsky’s music, Balanchine’s choreography, Karinska’s sumptuous costumes, and Rouben Ter-Arutunian’s magical sets.

The elaborate stage elements and intricate lighting unleash the viewers’ imagination by providing visual effects that are extraordinarily grand. The most famous example is the one-ton Christmas tree that grows from a height of 12 feet to 41 feet, evoking audible gasps of disbelief from the audience at each performance. Other notable feats include the comic figure of Mother Ginger — 85 pounds and nine feet wide, the costume requires handling by three people once it is lowered by pulley over the dancer’s head — as well as the continuous flutter of the purest, crystal-shaped snowflakes.

While these technical achievements are wonderful fun, it is Balanchine’s choreography that sustains the ballet through two acts. Act I introduces the characters — the Stahlbaum children, Marie and Fritz, Herr Drosselmeier and his Nephew — and also begins the transition from reality into fantasy with the concluding Snowflake Waltz. Act II offers the complete transformation. We have entered the “Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy” and there is no turning back.