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PNB's 'Nutcracker' remains new and fresh

PNB's 'Nutcracker' by John Soltys
Every year during the month of December, Pacific Northwest Ballet mounts its production of The Nutcracker, and every year it draws young and old to the Seattle Center Opera House. This year's show runs through Dec. 29.
   The performance is always a delight. The sets and costumes by Maurice Sendak are flamboyant and marvelous, the choreography by Kent Stowell is graceful, and Tchaikovsky's music, known to everyone, is magnificent.
   However, without some sort of magic, even the work of these three luminaries would become tarnished with age and The Nutcracker would cease to be the tradition it is. That magic is provided by the children, both in the audience and on the stage.
   While their dancing may not be technically perfect, the children's innocence and enthusiasm outshine any mistakes, resulting in a thoroughly endearing performance. Whether it's the two youngest children at the opening Christmas party who chase each other around the guests or the servant children in the Pasha's palace, the youthful dancers bring an otherwise unattainable feeling of newness to this long-running ballet.