In the Wings: How New York City Ballet's Storied 'Nutcracker' Gets Made

Behind the scenes of the production's 60th anniversary.

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Kathryn Wirsing
For the 60th anniversary of George Balanchine's famous staging of The Nutcracker, we go backstage for some intimate moments with the dancers, from rehearsal to opening night.
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Kathryn Wirsing
Principal dancer Sara Mearns laces up on a new pair of pointe shoes for rehearsal. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Mearns and partner Jon Stafford perfect the choreography.
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Kathryn Wirsing
A graceful moment from the pas de deux. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Finished with rehearsal, Mearns  takes a moment to rest. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
A headpiece in the costume department. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Crystals are hand sewn, and a single tutu takes an entire day to embellish.  
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Kathryn Wirsing
Vintage tutus from ballets over 40 and 50 years old line the halls outside the costume department. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
The infamous, overflowing shoe room at NYCB. Each dancer has their pointe shoes custom-made. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Rehearsing on stage before the curtain rises. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Sara Mearns's vanity, with an apropos ornament.
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Kathryn Wirsing
Principal ballerina Sterling Hyltin applies stage makeup. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Principal dancer Maria Kowroski checks her hair in the dressing room.
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Kathryn Wirsing
Kowroski does a quick barre warmup before the show. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
During a season, a dancer can burn through over 200 pairs of pointe shoes.  
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Kathryn Wirsing
Even during performance after performance of The Nutcracker, City Ballet is busy preparing other works. Here, dancer Kristen Segin is fitted for for A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Kathryn Wirsing
Sara Mearns secures her crown before making her second-act entrance as the Sugar Plum fairy. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
Minutes before curtain call, the dancers bang, scrape, cut, and customize their pointe shoes for maximum stage appeal and comfort. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
During intermission, the dancers take a few moments to practice on stage. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
The polichinelles get hydrated before thier acrobatic performance.
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Kathryn Wirsing
From above,  Sara Mearns twirls for her audience. 
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Kathryn Wirsing
A riot of beautiful colors in Waltz of the Flowers.
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Kathryn Wirsing
A leap caught from above as the Sugar Plum fairy flies.  
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Kathryn Wirsing
A final arabesque as the audience applauds for Sara Mearns. 
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