Performancing Metrics


The Nutcracker's New Clothes 2012

Soloist Whitney Jensen (center) and Second Soloist Altan Dugaraa (right) dance in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker.

How do you re-make a much beloved classic? This was a question Boston Ballet's Creative Director Mikko Nissinen must have asked himself in 2011, when the company decided to retire the 16 year old costumes and sets from their popular production of The Nutcracker. Wanting to re-imagine the classic performance, the Ballet hired award-winning designer Robert Perdziola for the herculean task. "The company has had a well-loved and very good production for many years." Perdziola stated. "My challenge is to produce something equally as endearing, yet fresh and vivid and unique." Over 40 sketches, 2,000 yards of net and tulle and 200,000 jewels later, the challenge has been met. 

The Nutcracker's new costumes feature a more elegant and nuanced color palette. For example, Drosselmeier (the somewhat eccentric uncle of The Nutcracker's heroine, Clara) was formerly dressed in flowing, purple robes. In the new performance, he is more Mr. Darcy than dandy. In fact, the whole first act has a decidedly Austen feel, an effort to reference early 19th century Regency style. Party guests, previously in large, bright petticoats, now perform in more streamlined silhouettes (designed to better highlight the dancers' movements) in muted shades of brown, cream and gray with hints of pink and blue.

But don't think the new Nutcracker is drab. As they often do in fairy tales, things start to change pretty quickly around midnight. Says Nissinen, "When Clara falls asleep, that's the game-changer. That's where reality stops and the dream starts." Indeed, Act 2 is an explosion of color. The Flower costumes feature layer upon layer of pleated tulle, hand-painted in Boston Ballet's costume shop. Several costumes, such as the Harlequin and the Cavalier, were hand-inked by Perdziola to work with the dancer's individual proportions. A full 182 costumes appear onstage in a single performance of The Nutcracker and over 350 costumes were produced for multiple casts. 

Want to experience a little but of Nutcracker magic this holiday season? The Boston Ballet's production of The Nutcracker plays from November 23 - December 30, 2012 at the Boston Opera House. Tickets start at $35. Learn more at

To read more about The Nutcracker costumes at the Boston Ballet, click HERE
To read interviews with Boston Ballet Corps de Ballet dancers Shelby Elsbree & Brittany Stone, click HERE.

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Corps de Ballet performer Brittany Summer and Principal Dancer Lasha Khozashvili perform as the Arabian dancers in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker.
Boston Ballet Manager of Costumes and Wardrobe, Charles Heightchew, shows off the new Nutcracker costume (left) and the old costume (right, from a December, 2011 TBF post).
Over 3,600 jewels adorn the tutu and bodice of the Sugar Plum Fairy costume.
Principal Dancer Misa Kuranaga performs as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker. The Sugar Plum Fairy will wear two looks in the new production. Perdziola hand tipped each Sugar Plum Fairy tutu with metallic paint. 
Corps de Ballet performer Sarah Wroth performs as a Spanish dancer in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker (left); Robert Perdziola's sketch of the Spanish dancer costume (right).

Robert Perdziola's sketch of the Arabian dancer costumes (left); Corps de Ballet performer Brittany Summer and Principal Dancer Lasha Khozashvili perform as the Arabian dancers in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker (right).

Solist Sabi Varga performs as Drosselmeier in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker.
Junior Stitcher Ezra Lovesky attends to one of the new costumes for The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet.
Second Soloist Isaac Akiba (in the air) and Corps de Ballet performer Lawrence Rines (on the ground) perform as the Russian dancers in Boston Ballet's dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker.

Boston Ballet's production of The Nutcracker plays from November 23 - December 30, 2012 at the Boston Opera House. Tickets start at $35. Learn more at

Keep up with TBF! Bloglovin' | Subscribe via Email | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest


  1. Ramon Ramon11/09/2012

    Sick post, K.

    1. Thanks! I truly love the Boston Ballet and I am so excited to see the new Nutcracker in with its new sets!

  2. Was so fun hanging out at the Boston Ballet with you! Fantastic post; I can't wait to see this production - the new costumes are gooooorgeous!

  3. So gorgeous! It looks like you ladies had an amazing time! I'm so happy that they are updating the costumes to something so beautiful.


  4. so i was thrilled to be in europe last week (haha) but i was BEYOND bummed to miss this...and your pics are amazing and prove that i really missed out!! Love the nutcracker and go every year!

  5. Such a distinguished Drosselmeier this year. Also, I'm crushing on the Arabian ensemble -- truly one of my favorite dances in the ballet.

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