Today, I showed some of my students the 1986 motion picture version of The Nutcracker, which was performed by the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company under the direction of choreographer Kent Stowall and costume/set design by Maurice Sendak (effing AWESOME!). This rendition holds many memories for me, because I used to watch it every year around this time as a child, and it is partially responsible for my love of ballet.
Although most of the boys groaned and complained about my selection, I was surprised to see most of the kids intently watching the film...and asking questions. Some of them made comments about the costuming and set designs looking like something out of Where the Wild Things Are, and were surprised to learn that Maurice Sendak had a huge hand in bringing this production to life. They did have a hard time following the story, but I helped them on the way.
Here are some of my favorite things about this version of The Nutcracker:
 It was a Christmas tradition in my house...until they stopped airing it on television. *tear*
 The sets, costumes and attention to detail are astonishing! I am a costume freak, and these costumes were very well done.
 The music...just beautiful. Maybe I'm partial to this recording because it was my first introduction to The Nutcracker, but this trumps all others in my book. A selection from The Queen of Spades (another Tchaikovsky composition) was also incorporated into the music, and it is the only piece which contains singing.
The choreography was impeccable, and the dancers display great technique. How I still wish for that killer turn-out and the ability to get the perfect pointe!
 My favorite part? The peacock's dance. For various reasons I won't get into....other than that costume gives me life!
The best part? I discovered that both the film and the abridged soundtrack are available on iTunes, and Netflix is also making the film available as an Instant Viewing selection. As for me...I still have my VHS copy of the movie, and I kept my VCR for that sole reason. Get into the spirit this Christmas.
(Photo credits: Denofgeek.com, Angela Sterling via Seattlepi.com)