I think we can all agree that Maurice Sendak is an awesome children’s book author and illustrator, yes? Also awesome: the Nutcracker ballet. Combine the two and POOF! Instant Holiday Magic! For twenty-five years, this special brand of magic has been a holiday tradition here in Seattle, thanks to the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Maurice Sendak designed the sets and costumes for Seattle’s Nutcracker and the result is absolutely amazing. I can’t do it justice with words, so check out this link for photos and videos. I, myself, have seen this performance at least four times and still enjoy it thoroughly. I have been waiting to take Zoey to see it since she was born (a yearning that I realize is somewhat ridiculous since I have absolutely zero personal experience or ties to ballet in any form, but whatever).
Sadly, this year marks the final year of the “Sendak Nutcracker” (this blow is somewhat softened by the fact that, starting next year, the new designs will be done by Ian Falconer, author of the amazing Olivia books. I can live with that). So I knew that I needed to take Zoey this year and promptly bought tickets for her, myself and my mom way back in September when they first went on sale. Our experience was almost canceled numerous times due to The Plague Cold of Never-ending Proportions that has completely knocked down all three of us since Thanksgiving. However, on the day of, we were all in tolerable enough health to venture out in public for three hours.
We prepared Zoey for days beforehand, reading her children’s versions of the Nutcracker story I had reserved from the library and describing every detail we could think about what to expect. All our preparation seems to have paid off well, because Zoey loved it. Generally speaking, when Zoey has a new experience or watches a new movie, she doesn’t show a lot of emotion. She’s so busy processing All The New Things that displays of emotion tend to take a back seat and surface at a later date. Not so this time. Throughout the performance, Zoey was smiling, asking questions, engaged and just truly enjoying every minute. I could tell she felt incredibly special, getting to stay up late, dress up fancy and go out on this special date with Grandma and Mommy, just like a grown up. She sat quietly, remembered to whisper, and showed impeccable manners the entire time. I am just bursting with pride for my little, big girl and so thankful she was able to enjoy this!
In the end, her favorite part was not the Sugarplum Fairy or the Peacock. It was not the “snow” falling on stage while graceful ballerinas in tutus swirled and leaped. It was not the giant Christmas tree that grew to four times it’s size before our very eyes. It was not the enormous Mouse King nor was it the boat carrying the lead performers over moving waves with leaping dolphins. No, in the end Zoey decided her most favorite part of all was the sword fight between the toy soldiers and the mouse army. Which only further proves how awesome my kid is.
This is actually my second attempt at this post. A previous, much more enthusiastic and descriptive version existed. Then WordPress ate it. Sorry about that.