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The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Celebrates The Nutcracker in New Exhibition


Exploring George Balanchine’s 1954 and 1964 productions of The Nutcracker, Winter Wonderland: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® includes rarely seen production materials


October 26, 2017 -- In anticipation of the holiday season, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is exploring a staple of the season with a new exhibition on one of the world’s most beloved ballets. Winter Wonderland: George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® on view from October 26, 2017 until January 27, 2018 in the Plaza Corridor Gallery at the Library for the Performing Arts, charts the early years of the ballet’s life from its premiere in February 1954 to the success of the remounted production in 1964.

Debuting in 1954, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker® was an immediate success, yet only became a classic when a televised and narrated version in 1958 brought the magical world into people’s homes. The 1964 New York City Ballet production included choreographic changes and brand new costumes and sets commissioned from the artists Barbara Karinska and Rouben Ter-Arutunian. With these modifications, The Nutcracker® has remained largely untouched since 1964, allowing multiple generations to bond over a shared experience year after year with the New York City Ballet and companies around the world.

The Nutcracker® has long been synonymous with the holiday season in New York City, and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center is delighted to celebrate such a storied production,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of The Library for the Performing Arts. “Seeing the beginnings of the beloved ballet offers patrons a deeper connection to this cherished holiday tradition.”  

Through treasures from the archives of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, including photographs, set models, costume designs, and original film footage, the story of Balanchine's beloved holiday classic emerges. Highlights from the exhibition include:

  • The original blueprint for the Christmas tree used as the centerpiece of Act I; the tree constructed by Ter-Arutunian is still in use today

  • Many of Karinska’s original costumes designs, including the Sugar Plum Fairy’s two distinct costumes: a pale pink dress with a knee-length skirt to open Act II and a pale green tutu for her pas de deux with her Cavalier

  • The schematics detailing the techniques used to create the magic of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker®, from the tree-raising to the snow falling--which is still done by hand

  • The original set models for Act I and II; Ter-Arutunian undertook both the lighting and the sets for the 1964 production, and the pair served to experiment with gels and different lighting effects.

  • A selection of pointe shoes from the famous ballerinas featured in The Nutcracker®

The Library gratefully acknowledges the leadership support of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman. Additional support for exhibitions has been provided by Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg and the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Foundation.

Press Contact: Sara Beth Joren |

About The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world’s most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts — whether professional or amateur — the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters, and photographs. The Library is part of The New York Public Library system, which has 90 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, and is a lead provider of free education for all.