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

Behind the scenes of the production's 60th anniversary.
Entertainment, Performing arts, Event, Dancer, Stage, Artist, Dress, Performance, Choreography, Performance art,
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.
Elbow, Safety glove, Knee, Glove, Boot, Wrist,
Kathryn Wirsing
1 of 23
Principal dancer Sara Mearns laces up on a new pair of pointe shoes for rehearsal. 
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Performing arts, Event, Entertainment, Ballet shoe, Dancer, Artist, Flooring, Floor, Choreography, Performance,
Kathryn Wirsing
2 of 23
Mearns and partner Jon Stafford perfect the choreography.
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Entertainment, Performing arts, Floor, Dancer, Artist, Flooring, Monochrome, Choreography, Performance art, Dance,
Kathryn Wirsing
3 of 23
A graceful moment from the pas de deux. 
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Leg, Human body, Shoulder, Human leg, Joint, Floor, Knee, Thigh, Foot, Ankle,
Kathryn Wirsing
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Finished with rehearsal, Mearns  takes a moment to rest. 
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Brown, Jewellery, Bridal accessory, Body jewelry, Headpiece, Natural material, Beige, Hair accessory, Pearl, Jewelry making,
Kathryn Wirsing
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A headpiece in the costume department. 
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Clothing, Textile, White, Dress, Embellishment, Fashion, Pattern, Ivory, Mannequin, Fashion design,
Kathryn Wirsing
6 of 23
Crystals are hand sewn, and a single tutu takes an entire day to embellish.  
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Textile, Fashion, Dress, Embellishment, Costume design, One-piece garment, Day dress, Fashion design, Clothes hanger, Dance,
Kathryn Wirsing
7 of 23
Vintage tutus from ballets over 40 and 50 years old line the halls outside the costume department. 
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Brown, Tan, Natural material, Beige, Collection, Fawn, Retail, Seafood, Salted fish, Fish,
Kathryn Wirsing
8 of 23
The infamous, overflowing shoe room at NYCB. Each dancer has their pointe shoes custom-made. 
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Entertainment, Performing arts, Monochrome, Artist, Monochrome photography, Musical instrument, Black-and-white, Performance art, Stage, Dance,
Kathryn Wirsing
9 of 23
Rehearsing on stage before the curtain rises. 
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Metal, Circle, Iron, Brass, Building material, Bronze,
Kathryn Wirsing
10 of 23
Sara Mearns's vanity, with an apropos ornament.
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Nose, Eye, Eyelash, Nail, Hair care, Cosmetics, Makeover, Mobile phone, Beauty salon, Personal grooming,
Kathryn Wirsing
11 of 23
Principal ballerina Sterling Hyltin applies stage makeup. 
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Hair, Mouth, Hairstyle, Fashion accessory, Fashion, Long hair, Hairdresser, Beauty salon, Hair coloring, Makeover,
Kathryn Wirsing
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Principal dancer Maria Kowroski checks her hair in the dressing room.
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Leg, Monochrome, Street performance, Black-and-white, Machine, Balance,
Kathryn Wirsing
13 of 23
Kowroski does a quick barre warmup before the show. 
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Natural material, Collection, Knot, Animal product, Bone,
Kathryn Wirsing
14 of 23
During a season, a dancer can burn through over 200 pairs of pointe shoes.  
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Entertainment, Ballet tutu, Performing arts, Dancer, Pink, Costume, Dance, Ballet dancer, Performance art, Choreography,
Kathryn Wirsing
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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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Human, Body jewelry, Silver, Embellishment, Makeover, Box, Natural material, Ornament,
Kathryn Wirsing
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Sara Mearns secures her crown before making her second-act entrance as the Sugar Plum fairy. 
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Head, Hairstyle, Hair accessory, Pink, Fashion accessory, Headpiece, Artist, Eyelash, Makeover, Fashion design,
Kathryn Wirsing
17 of 23
Minutes before curtain call, the dancers bang, scrape, cut, and customize their pointe shoes for maximum stage appeal and comfort. 
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Entertainment, Performing arts, Event, Dancer, Stage, Artist, Dress, Performance, Choreography, Performance art,
Kathryn Wirsing
18 of 23
During intermission, the dancers take a few moments to practice on stage. 
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Shoe, Hat, Fashion accessory, Costume, Costume design, Sun hat, Costume accessory, Fashion design, Box, One-piece garment,
Kathryn Wirsing
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The polichinelles get hydrated before thier acrobatic performance.
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Dress, Pink, Headgear, Fashion, Costume design, Ballet tutu, Costume, Dance, One-piece garment, Peach,
Kathryn Wirsing
20 of 23
From above,  Sara Mearns twirls for her audience. 
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Performing arts, Entertainment, Pink, Magenta, Dancer, Performance, Performance art, Art, Dance, Costume,
Kathryn Wirsing
21 of 23
A riot of beautiful colors in Waltz of the Flowers.
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Painting,
Kathryn Wirsing
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A leap caught from above as the Sugar Plum fairy flies.  
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Monochrome, Performing arts, Darkness, Stage, Monochrome photography, Black-and-white, Artist, Performance art, Concert dance, Snapshot,
Kathryn Wirsing
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A final arabesque as the audience applauds for Sara Mearns. 
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