In With the New: Grand Rapids Ballet Debuts a New "Nutcracker"

November 27, 2014

This story originally appeared in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of

Grand Rapids Ballet, under artistic director and former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Patricia Barker, debuts a new Nutcracker on December 12.

Drawing inspiration from PNB’s beloved Nutcracker collaboration with picture book artist Maurice Sendak, Barker commissioned Chris Van Allsburg (of The Polar Express and Jumanji fame) to work on the set and production of the new ballet, along with Broadway design veteran Eugene Lee. “Chris was the first person we thought of for the new production,” says Barker. “Maurice actually recommended him.”

The ballet will feature details from the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story, and will be choreographed by Val Caniparoli. “This is a collaborative effort, and we’re trying to bring out nuances from the original story—some of the darker elements about being a young girl—that haven’t yet been explored,” Barker says.